What to do with leftover farmer’s market vegetable bounty that’s about to go bad? Pickle them, of course! I learned my basic quick pickle recipe from Thomas Keller and his book Ad Hoc At Home (otherwise known as the Cooking Bible, as written by the God of Cooking – in Selim’s opinion). The basic recipe for quick pickles is as follows. You may want to sit down and mentally prepare yourself because it’s so difficult.
2 parts vinegar, to 1 part water, to 1 part sugar
Simmer. Cool. Pour over vegetables. Refrigerate.
Complex huh? So taking that basic recipe, you can modify it to your tastes a million ways. Which vegetables are in season? (Or if you’re like me and buy too many pretty vegetables at the farmer’s market, which vegetables are about to go bad?) Try a different vinegar… balsamic, rice wine, champagne…?! All would give you unique types of pickles. Try brown sugar instead of white. Scale up or down depending on how many vegetables you want to pickle. And of course, doctor it up with different herbs and spices!
We’ve done this a quick a few different ways in the past, but here’s what I went with today:
Red Quick Pickled Cauliflower & Radishes
- 5 small radishes
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- Slice radishes and cut cauliflower into small, bite-sized pieces.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes and then shock in ice water. Set vegetables aside.
- Combine all ingredients except for the radishes and cauliflower in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Place vegetables in a large mason jar. Pour liquid over-top. Place in the refrigerator.
- Leave in the fridge for 3 days before enjoying. (They’re edible/won’t kill you immediately, but they’ll taste better if you let them pickle for awhile.)
Note: These aren’t “real” pickles of the canned, like Grandma did it, Little House on the Prairie, feed you during the zombie apocalypse variety. They are not safe to be left in pantry or cellar for eternity. They must stay refrigerated. Hence they’re called “quick pickles” or “refrigerator pickles.” We skipped the step of sterilizing the jar and lid that keeps you from getting botulism when canned goods are left on a shelf for months on end. On a related note, the CDC says that the majority of US cases of botulism are from improper home canning techniques. Tidbit of knowledge for the day.