This is not a complicated dish to prepare, but does take a little advance planning, as the vegetables require time to marinade and pickle...but it's such a beautiful Summer dish, so refreshing, attractive and delicious - it really is worth the effort.
This would make a stunning starter for a dinner party or light lunch. You will see how simple it is to prepare, but a real show-stopper if you are looking to impress! The colours of the vegetables become pastel and translucent once pickled. Contrasted with the dark, chargrilled beef with its blackened outside and pink inside, you will feel like you are painting an image onto the plate. Even if you are not particularly artistic, you can't go wrong as the ingredients will do all the work for you.
The vegetables alone are 0pp/approx.30kcal per serving. Presented as I am going to suggest, with chargrilled beef and creamy horseradish, the dish works out to 5pp (approx.200kcal) per portion. The vegetables are amazing with any cold meats or fish. This is a perfect way to use up left-overs from a Sunday roast. If you didn't want to present it as formally as I have, just imagine how stunning the jar of pickles would look placed on the table, for people to help themselves to.
You will need: (For 2 Servings)
For the Pickled Vegetables;
A glass jar with a secure lid
(This one was £1 from Poundland!)
300ml rice wine vinegar
Water to top up jar after filling
4 tablespoons granular sweetener
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 star anise
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
Small chunk ginger, peeled and sliced into small strips
1/4 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
A variety of vegetables,
eg: carrots, cucumber, red pepper, fennel, spring onions, red onion- whatever you like best.
The pickled vegetables really need to be prepared a day in advance if you have the time. If not, try to allow at least 6 hours, so that the vegetables absorb the pickling juices and take on a delicate but sweet and acidic flavour. (They are amazing!)
Start by putting a bay leaf, some of the chopped chilli, ginger, star anise, peppercorns, coriander seeds and a couple of cloves of garlic, into the base of the glass jar. Save the rest of these ingredients to layer between the vegetables as you fill the jar. You can buy a packet of pickling spices and use those if it's easier.
Start to build up the vegetables loosely into the jar.
Using a vegetable peeler, make ribbons out of the carrot and cucumber.
Try to leave the cucumber skin on the edges, it looks so beautiful and more like ribbon, especially when you roll it up.
Roll the cucumber and carrot up loosely and 'pack' the little spirals down the sides of the jar and into the spaces. Add more pickling spices and garlic as you go.
Even at this stage it's a work of art - like something from a sweet shop or a haberdashers. The colours are so divine and jewel-like.
Make up the pickling solution by pouring the vinegar into a measuring jug. Add the sweetener, cinnamon and white pepper. Pour carefully into the jar over the vegetables. If there is any gap, top up with cold water. Close the jar and tip upside-down gently to mix the water and vinegar. Pop it in the fridge until you are ready to serve the finished dish.
This is how the finished plate will look. I used fillet of beef which is layered high on top of the pickled vegetables and finished with a dollop of creamy horseradish and fresh herbs. The fillet of beef works out to 4pp/150kcal per portion. (The creamy horseradish is 1pp/approx 40kcal). You will need to recalculate propoints or calories if you use a different cut or type of meat or fish.
For the Beef; (For 2 portions)
200g fillet steak (100g per portion)
A'rub' made of spices of your choice.
1 tablespoon sumac
(See post CUPBOARD LOVE:Sumac)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon Cajun spice mix
For the Creamy Horseradish;
For EACH serving, mix 1 tablespoon Horseradish sauce with 1 tablespoon 0% fat Total Greek yoghurt
Rub the steak with the spices then chargrill on a very high heat to your desired level of cooking. I like mine cooked medium so it is a little bit pink.
Allow to rest before slicing very thin.
In separate ramekins, accurately measure 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce and mix with 1 tablespoon 0% fat yoghurt per person. The yoghurt calms the heat from the horseradish but it still retains a mustardy-bitterness that contrasts perfectly with the sweet pickles and the chargrilled beef.
To serve, pile a generous portion of the pickled vegetables onto the centre of the plate. They will have lost some of their colour, so slice a few more ribbons of fresh cucumber. Curl and place them around the edge.
Pile the sliced beef as high as you can. Top with the creamy horseradish.
Arrange a few fresh herbs around the plate. I used basil leaves and a couple of chives propped up against the finished construction, with some snipped parsley on the top.
Finally, add a tiny amount of low-salt soy sauce to the steak juices left in the chargrill pan and pour over the top. Add a squeeze of lime and some slices of lime to the plate.
It's all just a bit WOW.
Don't discard the pickling juice. Add some fresh dill to it and chop up the left over cucumber, or a new fresh cucumber into chunky slices, and add to the vinegar. Leave in the fridge to pickle. You can reuse this liquid 2 or 3 times. Throw it away after a week.
These pickled cucumbers taste just like the ones my Grandpa used to make, so have an extra touch of nostalgia for me. They are still known as 'pickled slucumber' in my family, as I couldn't pronounce it properly when I was little.
A large jar of pickled vegetables on its own makes a wonderful and inexpensive gift.