Having a jar of quick pickles in my fridge makes my weeknight cooking both easier and more interesting. It’s a two for one deal: you get something delicious and crunchy that goes with almost anything, and you are 90% of the way to a finished dish. They’re a cinch to put together and will last throughout the week, at which point you can choose another vegetable to pickle.
In the few days since I made this batch of pickled fennel, I have: chopped up the fennel and mixed it with rice, along with some of the pickling liquid and olive oil; added the fennel to blanched fresh cranberry and green beans and dressed the mixture with pickling liquid, olive oil, and herbs; chopped the fennel and added it to a salad, and used the pickling liquid to make the dressing; eaten the pickles with cheese and crackers; added them to a sandwich.
When making quick pickles, all you need to remember is 3, 3, 1, 1/4 (and you can tweak this ratio to your own flavor preference). Maybe it’s a holdover from my restaurant kitchen days, but thinking of dressings, brines, etc., in terms of ratios and “parts” makes it much easier to memorize, and thus do spontaneously.
Here’s how it comes together:
- Thinly slice your vegetable. Put it in a heatproof jar.
- Add aromatics: a few sprigs of an herb, 1 teaspoon of spices. Double or triple if you’re making a particularly large batch, but this amount is good for about 2 cups sliced vegetables.
- Make the pickling liquid: 3 parts vinegar, 3 parts water, 1 part sugar, 1/4 part salt. Boil. Pour over vegetable.
- Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely cool.
In this instance, I pickled a medium fennel bulb, and I needed it to be covered by the brine in the jar, so I decided each “part” was 1/4 cup (in this example, that means 3 parts is 3/4 cup and 1/4 part is 1 tablespoon). If you wanted to pickle a single shallot, you could make each “part” 1 tablespoon or if you were feeding 120 people, each “part” could a quart.
What vegetables would you pickle?