Lately, I’ve been on a pickled vegetable kick. This may have been sparked my most recent visit to Big Star, a Wicker Park (Chicago) “honky tonk” bar, serving a great assortment of beer, whiskey, and tacos. The sounds of Nashville and Bakersfield (a genre of country music developed in the mid-to-late 50s) fill the bar.
In addition to tacos, Big Star has a few sides, one of which is pickled vegetables. A big jar of them sits on the counter. I love to pop in for a taco or two, a side of pickled vegetables, and a hoppy I.P.A. to wash it all down.
You can pickle any number of vegetables — carrot, cauliflower, onion, garlic, radish, turnips, jalapeno and fresno peppers, green beans…you name it.
This particular recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless’s pickled chiles with other vegetables recipe [from Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico]. You really can’t go wrong with a Rick Bayless Recipe. I have at least 4 or 5 of his cookbooks and he’s yet to let me down.
This recipe is a bit different than other pickled vegetable recipes I’ve seen. For one, it has no sugar, and, in my opinion, I don’t think it’s needed. Second, it calls for you to saute the vegetables first before simmering in a mild brine.
I used purple cauliflower and watermelon radish, which turned the brine a rather unusual shade of pink (still tastes yummy).
Pickled Mixed Seasonal Vegetables
Carrot, sliced on a bias ~ 1/2 thick
Onion, sliced ~1/8 inch thick
Cauliflower, cut into individual florets
Zucchini or chayote, cubed
Radish, thinly sliced
Up to 4 fresh chile peppers (such as jalapenos and/or fresnos), sliced, thinly on a bias ~ 1/2 inch thick (seeded if you desire less heat)In addition to:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup apple cider or white wine vinegar vinegar
2 bay leaves
5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme (or oregano or marjoram) or 2 scant teaspoons dried herbs
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Sea salt, to taste (~ a scant teaspoon)In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the whole garlic and saute, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes until lightly browned; remove and set aside. Add the vegetables and chiles and saute, stirring frequently until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the vinegar, 1 cup water, browned garlic, bay leaves, herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the carrot is barely tender and the chiles olive green.
Remove from the heat, pour into a non-corrosive container, cool and season with additional salt if necessary. Cover and refrigerate for a day before using. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator (as long as the brine covers them).