Pickled Summer Carrot, Salmon Gravalax and Borage
Once the blue flowers of the borage appear, followed closely by the electric orange and yellow flowers of the nasturtium I know summer is in full swing. It makes me smile, as it not only gives me instant pleasure but transports me back in time to my childhood and evokes fond memories of my grand parents. They were simple folk living a decent but simple life and I would not have it any other way as it laid the foundations of who and what I have become. They lived in the small village of Porterville in the middle of nearly nowhere in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Granddad only knew farming and how to drive a bus, but due to severe diabetes he had to give them up and consequently the illness took him away from us. He was a firm man with very strong morals and beliefs, however he had a heart made of one giant marshmallow.
They had a half an acre of land to the side of the house and granddad tried to grow nearly everything. From paw paws, mangoes, avocados, pecan nuts, tomatoes, cucumbers, plums, peaches, physalis also know as Cape Gooseberries, he tried them all. The house bordered onto a river and amazingly there was enough space on the bank for nasturtiums to grow in abundance. I remember visiting during the summer school holidays and picking these pretty little flowers and putting them in a vase for my gran.
These are the fantastic memories I have of my grandparents, amazingly one does not realise how fortunate you are when your actually living the dream but how invaluable those memories are today.
What is Borage? Borage is a edible plant and both it’s flowers and leaves are enjoyed throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. The flowers are traditionally used in Pimms drinks as it has a ‘cucumber’ taste which can be substituted with fresh cucumber and mint. The leaves are commonly used in Germany for making a green sauce. In Liguria ,the northern region of Italy, its used to fill raviolis. Borage is also known for it’s medicinal and cosmetic uses.
I have a bit of everything in my garden and the main aim is to have a large percentage of plants that are edible or have edible fruits. It’s not all successful, however gardening gives me great pleasure. I was suprised when the horseradish re-appeared this year, it’s going wild alongside the lemon balm under the olive tree, which also bore fruits last year. I planted the borage and nastirtium into pots to liven the patio up and to disguise the very ordinary wooden panel fence.
Last year I also grew carrots but this year I simply ran out of time and did not get round to sow the seeds. So I have to do with carrots from our local farmers market. This dish is made up of two elements, the recipe is mainly about the pickled carrots and the use of the borage flowers and not so much about the gravalax, so I would not be offended at the slightest if you substituted the gravalax with smoked salmon.
I’m a pickling and jam making fan, so I pop anything into a jar which is good for me to keep. These pickled carrots are great, the chillies provide a bite, which means it’s spicy but nice. It keeps for a long time and comes in ever so handy when you are short of time and need to rustle up an amazing lunch in minutes. I even used the pickled carrots to spice up a stir fry which is unusual but it adds that absolute unexpected and exciting element to the dish.
My motto is ‘make the most of the season’…… happy pickling and jam making!
A few of my other favourtie pickled recipes:
Pickled Summer Carrots
- 200g carrots, peeled
- 1 large red chillie, deseeded and julienned
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove of garlic, lightly crushed with the back of a knife
- 1tsp black mustard seeds
- 1tbs grated fresh ginger
- 2tbs soy sauce
- 100ml orange juice
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g white wine vinegar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
With a mandolin slice the peeled carrots on an angle about 2mm thick and lightly sprinkle with salt, set aside for 1 hour.
Place the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan, dissolve the sugar over low heat, turn the heat up and cook the syrup for 10 minutes.
Wash the carrots under cold running water to remove the salt and leave to drain.
Add the carrots to the boiling syrup; bring back to the boil for 2 minutes.
Let the carrots cool for a few minutes then transfer to sterilized containers.
Either use immediately or let the pickled carrots mature for one week before using.
Fills three 250ml preserving jars.
- 240g salmon gravalax
- 4tbs of the drained pickled carrots + 1 tsp of the pickling liquid
- 1tbs olive oil
- few borage flowers and baby salad leaves
Choose 4 starter size serving plates, refrigerate them for 20 minutes before serving. The chilled plates will keep the salmon cool on a hot day. Divide the salmon between the 4 plates, laying it flat to cover the base of the plate. Arrange the drained pickled carrots, borage flowers and baby salad leaves. Drizzle with the pickling liquid and olive oil and serve.