This recipe for quick pickled veggies finally quieted the urge I’ve had to pickle. I knew I was never going to really pickle, at least not at this point in my life, when the idea of spending a long Sunday afternoon putting up jars of canned produce is laughable. Let’s be clear: I love cooking and being in my kitchen, but if I were to have a long, child free Sunday afternoon presented to me I would not spend it in my kitchen sweating over canning jars.
I would go to a matinee and see Blue Jasmine. Or hop a morning flight up to Seattle and meet friends for a meal here, a restaurant with reviews that pain me to read because I feel so very far away from Seattle and restaurants like Bar Sajor.
Still, the desire to open my pantry (or in this case, refrigerator) and see jars filled with brightly colored produce is hard to resist. I knew there was a quicker, easier solution that would give me both the pleasure of pickling and instant gratification. If you find yourself short on time and patience with a craving for the vinegary bite of something pickled, then you will love quick pickling as much as I do.
There are a million recipes for quick pickling out there, most of them pretty much the same. But I found this one on epicurious to have the right balance of tart/sweet/salty/spicy flavor. I’ve changed it only slightly, using coriander seeds instead of dill because that’s what I had on hand, slightly less salt, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes to add some heat. It might take a few batches to find your own perfect blend of spices and salt/sugar ratio. Experiment with different types of vinegar, too. I used apple cider vinegar, so can only vouch for that, but I’d like to try these with white vinegar and especially with unseasoned rice vinegar.
Open your refrigerator right now and there is something in there you can pickle. Green Beans and carrots are my favorite, followed by red cabbage and cucumbers. I doubled the recipe from epicurious so I had enough to pickle about 1/2 pound of greens beans and another 1/2 pound of peeled carrot sticks, plus half a head of thinly sliced purple cabbage. And one small cucumber.
Just cut the brine ingredients in half if you’re pickling fewer veggies, like a single jar of pickled beans or carrots.
Quick Pickling Brine Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons salt (I used kosher)
2 tablespoons dill seeds or coriander seeds
a generous pinch of red pepper flakes
2 large garlic cloves, cut into quarters
I don’t boil any of my veggies before pouring the brine over them. I like my green beans and carrots to be really crisp. If you’d like, you can drop the beans and carrots into salted, boiling water for 2 minutes, then drop them into a bowl of ice water to quickly cool before pickling them. Boiling the veggies first might make them more likely to soak up flavor? If you try it, let me know.
Arrange your veggies, either raw or parboiled, in whatever container you’re using to pickle. I combined the beans and carrots in a jar and put the cabbage in a glass dish with a lid. Tupperware works great, too.
Bring the brine ingredients to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Pour the brine over the veggies. Let cool completely, uncovered. You can do this on your counter or in the refrigerator. When the liquid is cool, cover the containers and refrigerate as long as you can stand before sneaking a bite. I thought the veggies tasted pretty great after a few hours and even better after about 8 hours.
I think a jar of pickled beans and carrots would be the perfect appetizer to set out on a hot summer night. Impressive, tasty and easy to make.
Pickled veggies are also a way that I try to sneak more brightly colored veggies into my diet. We all know that our plates and salad bowls should be a rainbow of colors; the more color on your plate, the more nutrients there are. But sometimes I’m just too tired or short on time to cut up those carrots in the fridge or the red pepper on my counter. Salads end up being a bag of pre-washed greens dumped directly into a bowl and dressed quickly with olive oil and lemon. Boring and pathetic, I know, but it’s the truth.
I’m trying to get more brightly colored veggies on O’s plate too, but it’s challenging. Not necessarily because she doesn’t like veggies – she’s fairly open to trying them and can surprise me by wolfing down a bunch of broccoli or steamed carrots when I least expect it. But she also frequently leaves the veggies on her plate untouched or chews up a mouthful of tomato or red pepper, only to spit it all out. Texture is often the culprit. The skin on bell peppers, chewy brussels sprouts, chalky potatoes and leafy greens are all no go’s. But the color of veggies is often a big draw. Serve purple potatoes and suddenly O is interested.
Like most kids, she loves color. Why, as adults, do we let black, white and gray creep into our lives and then overwhelm it? And beige. Eckh, beige. I am firmly against beige. But before I had O, my closet was mostly a collection of black or white-shirts and dresses and dark blue jeans. This could not continue after I had a baby, especially a little girl. The bright colors of kid’s clothing are so inspiring. Just take a look at her drawer:
If you’re currently expecting a girl or have a girl under 2 years of age and think that steering her towards green and blue and red and orange will prevent her from loving the stereotypical pinks and purples, good luck with that. You think your daughter isn’t going to wear hot pink shoes and pants to preschool with a pink and purple dress and insist on only using the pink and purple rubber bands for ponytails? You think she won’t insist on the hot pink plastic table at Ikea instead of the charming wooden red one?
As you give away all those gender-neutral clothes that your toddler daughter now refuses to wear, just remember that pink is a powerful color. I had forgotten that before I had a girl. I have several pink shirts in my own closet now, thank to O. I don’t wince anymore or try to suggest orange or green to her when she tells me 20 times a day that her favorite color is pink.
I love opening her drawers and having nothing but hot pink, dark pink, purple or rainbow-striped pants to choose from. I love opening her closet and seeing a dozen sundresses with obnoxious floral prints. Color is good. Color makes us happy. And there is nothing that brings an explosion of color into your life like having a child.