My entire childhood I was dairy-free. Not in the era of coconut yogurt and almond milk and vegan butter. But in the era of everything tastes like cardboard might as well skip it. I remember having horchata in Chicago once which changed my idea of milk-like drinks forever. I had a few years where I could almost tolerate certain types of dairy (if I didn't mind feeling crappy the next few days) and then I was vegan for many years. With my 11 year old it is a severe life-threatening allergy, so we are now very strict about the dairy. We try to keep it out of the house completely, as he reacts severely to even small amounts of contact. Since I didn't grow up on dairy and avoided it for decades, I don't really "miss" anything - but there are some foods I remember fondly and have re-created over the years. Tzatziki is one of those things. It reminds me of my years living in the Andersonville area in Chicago (a neighborhood full of amazing swedish, greek, and middle eastern restaurants ). This recipe is perfect in summer -and is my favorite dairy free tzatziki. It has the texture, taste, and smell. It is delicious with crisp vegetables. Drop a dollop in chilled cucumber soup. It even makes a great salad dressing. The base is cashews, which gives it a rich flavor and a protein boost.
This tzatziki has the creamy tang of a traditional recipe, but is dairy free! Serve with lamb or chicken, as a dip for fresh veggies, with pita chips, or as a dollop over chilled summer soups. Delicious.
To soak the cashews: Put 1 cups of raw cashews in a canning jar or bowl, cover with hot water from your kettle (meaning hotter than tap but not boiling), let soak 1-4 hours. Drain.
To make a dressing, take a few tablespoons of the tzatziki, add equal amount olive oil, and a teaspoon or two of good vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and then mix well. It is creamy and delicious!
While I like pickles, I like finding other ways to use our abundance of cucumbers throughout the summer. I like to keep a chilled bowl of this in the fridge in season so it is always ready for a snack, with a meal, or over a salad!
I love quick refrigerator pickles. It is a great way to make a little bit of something. It doesn't take much time or effort and you get pretty immediate results. I can pop out a few pints in between kids and garden and sunshine. And you never cook the vegetables/fruit in a water bath or pressure canner, so you always end up with such fresh and crisp flavors. I like having small batches too. So I can make new batches with the season, and not get tired of any one thing.
These quick radish pickles are great on their own (I should know, I ate them non-stop as I took the photos. Ahem.), on top of a salad, as a side for just about anything, or with a cheese and meat board. SO delicious. And they are not too weird or strong for kids either. The bright pink color helps.
Pink Pickled Radishes (Umeboshi)
The perfectly pink ume plum quick pickle. The perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and crispy. Great on their own, or over a salad, on a cheese & meat board, or replacing anything that would be perfect with a pickle.
Slice radishes into thin rounds. Place in a colander and toss with a teaspoon or so of sea salt. Let it sit and exude liquid while you do the rest of the prep.
This recipe calls for ume plum vinegar. It comes from umeboshi plums. You can use all apple cider vinegar, but the ume plum vinegar adds such a great flavor and color. This vinegar adds a bit of depth so this pickle is sweet and sour and twangy and mild all at the same time. It is a good match for the peppery bite of radishes.
If you don't have pickling spice you can crush 7 or 8 peppercorns and use that. I always keep pickling spice around (and it is easy to make your own!). I like one that blends clove, bay, allspice, peppercorns, juniper, coriander, mustard, dried chili, and other aromatic herbs. I make a lot of quick pickles and find that I am using it all throughout the season!
I am ridiculously excited to get into the season of dirt on my hands, planting, and harvesting from my garden. What we eat from May to November is directly related to what is fresh in our garden, and when CSA season begins, what is in our weekly share. Spring radishes always signal the beginning of gardening season to me. It is ON!
I love small batch fridge preserving. While there are many things I preserve a lot of in season, I prefer to preserve ingredients so that I can make a wide variety of flavors whenever I want. I am not a big sweet person, but I love bold unique flavors. I often make just a few pints at a time of marmalade, compote, aigre-doux, and mostarda. I like the twangy flavors to balance out the sweetness of yogurt (I love it with coconut milk yogurt) or to add flavor to things like snacks of cured meats and flax crackers. This kumquat cranberry compote is so good. It has the burst of cranberry tartness, the rich zest of citrus, with the deeper intensity of kumquat. I freeze Wisconsin cranberries in season to be used all winter if I can - but had one last bag that I had managed to keep fresh in my fridge. It goes perfectly with this short burst of kumquat season.
Kumquats are quirky little citrus similar in color and skin to tiny oranges, but with more of a sour pucker to them, and the fruit as well as pith and skin are edible. Kumquat are packed with anti-oxidants, vitamin C, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc, fiber, and B vitamins. And of course cranberries are full of fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and more as well. Having a burst of intense twangy goodness when March is long and gray is a good thing.
Kumquat Cranberry Compote
This is a delicious twangy compote sweetened with honey.
Put your kumquat slices and cranberries into a big pot.
Add the cinnamon stick, grated ginger, and vanilla bean to the pot.
Crush the cloves, allspice, and cardamom with a mortar and pestle a bit (or put into a baggie and crack a few times with a rolling pin). Add the crushed spices to a tea bag or piece of cheesecloth. Tie it up and add to the pot.
Add in your orange juice or whiskey. Start with 1/3 of a cup. Depending on how juicy your kumquats are, if your cranberries are fresh or frozen, or if you use OJ or whiskey, your liquid needs might slightly vary. Start with the smaller amount, add more as you are cooking if it is looking too dry. It should be just enough liquid to soften and integrate the ingredients into a thick but stirrable whole.
With everything in the pot, bring to a boil and stir stir stir. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, adding more liquid if necessary. If using whiskey the alcohol is cooking off, but leaving an amazing aroma and flavor.
After 15-20 minutes on medium, stirring often, remove your cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and spice bag.
Add the honey, stir, and turn down to LOW for another 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir, and then let sit for a final 10 minutes or so to cool. It should be nice and thick and garnet.
Spoon into clean jars, and refrigerate.
This should keep in your refrigerator for a few weeks if you can keep yourself from eating all of it immediately.
NOTE: If you use a very sweet orange juice as your liquid, you might not need as much honey. Taste it as you go!
Make a zingy fresh dressing - mix a Tablespoon of the compote with a teaspoon of coconut vinegar and 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Whisk until blended and drizzle over your salad or steamed veggies.
It is fantastic over yogurt, on a cheese and meat plate, as a condiment with roasted chicken, in your morning hot cereal, or as a dressing for salads and vegetables.
I love the color and flavor. It has a punch of twangy cranberry, the freshest citrus zest, and enough sweetness to balance the tart without being overly sweet. It is so good!
I am a certified aromatherapist, herbalist, organic gardener, photographer, writer, designer, artist, nature lover, whole foods maker, and mother of two unschooled boys in south central Wisconsin.