For this week’s Potter Hill CSA recipe I’m focusing on one of my favorite ways to brighten up a dish: pickles. I’ve never met a pickle I don’t like. While I am perfectly happy to eat them straight out of a jar, their tang, spice, and crunch can so often turn a bland dish into something exceptional. This is also a ridiculously easy way to use a vegetable you may not have an immediate plan for.
Anything can be pickled, so there is no need to limit yourself to just cukes. Pickling also doesn’t have to be an elaborate process with numerous jars and hot water baths. It can be as simple as chopping up a little extra veg while you’re making dinner, filling a single jar, and topping it with a quick brine of vinegar and salt. Thinly sliced pickles will take on the flavor of the brine in as little time as half an hour, and the flavor will continue to intensify with time.
I made my pickles with jalapenos, carrots, and onions. While I stuck to a single vegetable for each pickle, you could certainly mix and match (just cut them into uniform sizes/shapes). Feel free to sub different vinegars and/or spices, or add a touch of sweetness. I specify kosher salt in all the recipes. If you’re using table salt, I would cut the amount in half and then add more to taste.
The uses for these are endless. They can top tacos and burrito bowls, add crunch to sandwiches (breakfast or otherwise), elevate a cheese plate or grilled cheese, or provide contrast in a salad (green, potato, egg, tuna, or whatever). The fun doesn’t end with the pickles though! The brine is also a great ingredient for salad dressings and sauces (like the green sauce in the burrito bowls linked above).
My entire CSA share this week was purple potatoes, onions, rainbow carrots, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, thyme, eggplant, celeriac, chard, spicy lettuce mix, jalapenos, and a leek. I used onions, carrots, potatoes, and chard in lentil rice bowls with muhamarra from Bowl + Spoon. Potatoes, tomatoes, and more onions went into a lackluster gratin paired with a spicy salad (the fault of the recipe not the vegetables – I should have just made this again). Eggplant topped my favorite pizza (crispy capers! garlic oil!!). I paired my pickles with these super flavorful Vietnamese-style chicken meatballs, which I’ve made before and according to my husband are “dope” (I concur).
Quick Pickled Jalapenos
Makes 1 1/2-pint
- 1 cup thinly sliced jalapenos (I used 4)
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Combine vinegar and salt and stir to combine. Let sit until the salt dissolves, or heat gently on the stove top or in 30 seconds bursts in the microwave. Add jalapenos to the jar, and pour brine over. Pickled jalapenos will last for a couple months in the fridge, but will soften over time.
Quick Pickled Carrots
Makes 1 pint
You may notice in the photo I used pickling spice, but I only call for mustard seeds below. I love the flavor of pickling spice, but I learned with such a small pickle it is annoying to have to fish out the cloves and allspice berries. You could use a different spice in mustard seed’s place such as coriander or celery seed. I used a mandoline to julienne my carrots, but you could slice them into coins instead (there will just be less surface area to be pickled).
- 2 cups julienned carrots (I used 5 smaller carrots, about 3/4 lb)
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, or add more!)
Combine vinegar, salt, pickling spice, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a small pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then pour over carrots in their jar. Let cool, and then refrigerate until ready to use.
Quick Pickled Onions
Makes 1 pint
A few years ago I got a book from the library on Mexican food that included this genius recipe for pickling onions with just citrus juice. I, of course, did not write down the book title, but this recipe will stick with me forever. I wrote out specific quantities here, but usually I just chop up the onion and squeeze enough citrus juice to submerge it entirely. Will once suggested we use the leftover pickling liquid for a cocktail, which we haven’t done yet…but we will.
- 2 cups thinly sliced red onion (from 1 onion, about 1/2 lb)
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed citrus juice (I used 1 orange and 6 limes)
Pour citrus juice over onions. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.