Like other people might occasionally make chocolate chip cookies, I occasionally make pickles. Refrigerator pickles to be specific, the kind that don’t involve exact measurements, sanitized jars, perfect temperatures and lid sealing. The kind that take 10 minutes to make, are ready to be enjoyed in a day or two and last in the fridge at least a month.
Also known as quick pickles or lazy pickles, to which I take absolutely no offense, but rather pride that something so easy to make can produce something so delicious and impressive, in that special, I-pickle-my-own-vegetables-from-the-Farmer’s-Market-way (I’m lookin’ at you fellow Seattleites and Portlandians). Seriously, if you can chop vegetables and boil water, you can make these.
Can’t go wrong with pickled jalapenos, but little radishes, daikon strips, red onions, mini cucumbers or turnips, shredded cabbage, carrot sticks and asparagus spears all make awesome pickles. Heck, any firm vegetable rolling around in the produce bin will do (although, I haven’t tried broccoli, not so sure about that one).
If you haven’t yet guessed, we’ve got a few pickle lovers in this house. They get wolfed down in eggs, sandwiches, nachos, pizza, salads and even by themselves. And while I won’t go so far as to say pickled vegetables can replace potato chips, they do offer a lot of bang for their buck: crunchy, salty, vinegary (and spicy, if you like), making practically any savory meal a little more exciting.
Added bonus, pickles are a way to use up obscure spices that are crowding your cupboards. Mustard seeds? Add a fun pop of texture. Cloves? They aren’t just for ham and pomanders anymore. Cardamom pods? I like chai as much as the next guy, but try ‘em in savory pickles for something new. Dried birds eye chiles? Move over Thai curry, these babies are going in pickles!
Quick Pickled Baby Turnips & Cauliflower with Mustard Seeds
This recipe is a template; use ½ pound of whatever vegetable you like. It can be doubled or tripled, made with different spices or vinegars, without sweetener, whatever your little heart desires. Just stick with the vegetable to brine ratio and you’ll be good to go.
Makes ½ pound pickles (about 2 cups)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon turmeric (or curry powder)
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
1 small dried chile (such as Bird’s Eye)
1 bay leaf
2 cardamom pods
1 bunch whole baby turnips
1 cup cauliflower florets
Prep the vegetables. Remove any greenery from the turnips and reserve for another use. If your turnips are large, cut them into sticks or cubes and if they are small, leave them whole. Place the turnips and cauliflower in a plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid, just big enough to hold all the vegetables.
Make the brine. In a medium saucepan, combine all the brine ingredients. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and pour over the vegetables. Allow to cool uncovered until room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least one day and for up to a month (or probably longer!).