One of my favorite magazines/websites (Saveur) recently posted about pickled vegetables and it got me thinking how easy it is to make them at home. You don't have to fuss with all that crazy canning stuff and it takes minutes to throw it together. They're perfect for parties and travel well; I usually just throw mine in a glass bowl with a lid and off we go. They will also keep in the fridge for several weeks and the longer they sit, the better they get. I think I made a batch for Christmas (or was it Thanksgiving? Give me a break, it's February already!) and we kept snacking on them well after the holiday.
Super Simple Pickled Carrots & Onions
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 red onion, peeled and sliced on the thin side
1 head of garlic
1 green chile, sliced into strips or rounds
1 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
1 t cumin seeds
1 T sugar
1/2 t black peppercorns
*fennel seeds are also a nice addition if you have them on hand.
Put a pot of salted water on to boil while you peel and slice your
carrots, onion, and chile. Separate and peel garlic cloves* and set to the side.
Once the water is ready, boil the carrots (carrots only!) for approximately three minutes. While the carrots are boiling, place a colander in the sink and put the onions and garlic in it. When the carrots are finished boiling, dump the whole thing over the onions and garlic in the colander. This way you get a quick blanch of the onions and garlic without getting them too soggy or squishy.
In a separate bowl, mix together water, apple cider vinegar, cumin seeds, sugar, and black peppercorns. Mix in the vegetables (it's ok if they're still warm) and raw
chile, making sure that everything gets covered in the liquid. You may need to use a large spoon or spatula to push the vegetables into the liquid. Your kitchen is going to smell like B.O. from the cumin and apple cider vinegar, but it's worth it.
Taste to see if you need to add a bit more salt and add if needed (hopefully the salted boiling water was enough). Cover the mixture tightly (you don't want your fridge to smell like B.O.) and refrigerate overnight. You also might want to give it a stir or shake while it's chilling in the fridge, just to make sure everything gets a good coating of that B.O. liquid.
*There are a couple different ways to "quickly" (ha!) peel a head of garlic cloves. Some people like to put them in a jar and vigorously shake the jar causing the peels to come off. Others like to smash the whole head of garlic using the heel of your hand and the flat end of your knife. Honestly, I usually just peel the darn things one by one.