Spring Fling

Chef Michael Scelfo shares his secrets for the ultimate al fresco dinner party.


“Once you know how to pickle something, and you know a good recipe, you can start experimenting and pickling whatever you want,” Scelfo says. As the season progresses, try this recipe with produce like watermelon rinds, peaches, and cherry tomatoes. The pickles will keep in the fridge indefinitely.

michael scelfo dinner party recipe

Jars of pickled fennel, radishes, and shallots.

Pickled Spring Vegetables

1 c. thinly sliced fennel (about 2 medium-size bulbs)

1 c. thinly sliced radishes (about 1 bunch)

1/2 c. thinly sliced shallots

2 tbsp. ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

4 cloves of garlic, whole

1 c. seasoned rice vinegar

1 large slice of orange peel

1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

3 tbsp. whole star anise

1/4 c. lime juice

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

Fill a clean quart-size jar with the fennel, radishes, shallots, ginger, garlic, star anise, and orange peel. Pour in the rice vinegar, lime juice, salt, and peppercorns. Cover and shake to unify the mixture. Place the jar in the refrigerator, and let sit for one hour or more. Store in the refrigerator.

Toasted Barley and Chanterelles

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 c. pearl barley, rinsed

2 shallots, minced

2 tbsp. thyme leaves

1/2 lb. chanterelle mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms—even creminis will work)

4 c. chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add barley and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until the barley starts to brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Add shallots, and cook for two minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook until soft (two to three minutes). Add stock and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat until it’s barely simmering. Cover and cook for 45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir well, and season with fresh thyme, pepper, and more salt, if needed. Fold in a handful of pickled vegetables. (Option: Fold in a tablespoon or so of pickling liquid as well.) Serve immediately.