Have you noticed that quick pickles have gained popularity among fine restaurants and celebrity chefs? It is a process similar to the pickles made by our grandmothers for the county fair but requiring far less time for processing and preserving. Generally speaking, a pickle is food that has been preserved in a seasoned brine or vinegar mixture. They can be sour, sweet, hot or flavored in a variety of ways, such as with dill for the popular dill pickle. In this recipe the flavor comes from fresh rosemary, garlic, bay leaf, and black peppercorns.
Truly, you can pickle almost anything but for today I chose radish, baby golden beets, and pearl onions. The flavor combination is complimentary and the colors make a stunning visual. A perfect pairing for rich savory dishes such as braised beef, lamb, pork or fowl, they also make a nice snack with a cocktail or side to accompany a sandwich.
The Italians have their take on it called giardiniera. The commercial version can be found in a jar near the pickles in almost any super market. Sometimes they come in a single style such as eggplant or zucchini but most often they are a mixture of sliced carrots, celery, small onions, peppers and perhaps cauliflower. They are often served with cured meats like salami and ham as an antipasto. When I was in Italy they were served as a tart counterpoint with roasted cold meats or poultry for breakfast along with a hard roll.
Peak your interest? The recipe is easy.
Recipe Serves 6-8
1 pkg. frozen pearl onions (you could use fresh, but they must be peeled)
3 c white wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 T kosher salt
10 whole black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 large bunch radishes, trimmed
1 large bunch baby golden beets, peeled with vegetable peeler and trimmed
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- Bring vinegar, sugar, kosher salt, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf, and rosemary plus 2 c water to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat to medium; simmer for 3 minutes.
- Add the onions and simmer until crisp tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a heat proof bowl.
- Return pickling liquid to a boil, adding more water if necessary to cover the vegetables. Add the radishes and cook to crisp tender, about 12-13 minutes, depending on the size.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the heat proof bowl with the onions.
- Return pickling liquid to a boil and add the beets. Cook until crisp tender about 15 minutes.
- Add the beets to the other vegetables and pour the pickling over them to cover.
- Allow to cool. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight or up to one week.
- To serve, drain vegetables and cut into bite sized pieces. Place on a platter or in individual bowls.
- Drizzle with the olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper.
- Garnish with the chopped parsley.
Note: The reason for cooking the vegetables separately is because they vary in cooking time. If you use red beets, they must be treated separately as they will turn the pickling liquid purple. Simply make the onions and radishes first and cover them with pickling liquid. Add more water to remaining liquid if necessary and proceed to cook the red beets. When done, keep them stored separately from the red beets until you are ready to serve them.
This simple pickling process can be used for a wide variety of vegetables. Adjust the cooking time accordingly always striving for the crisp tender point of doneness. Once pickled, the vegetables are versatile in their use so let that imagination of yours run wild. How about skewering a couple and putting them in your bloody mary or martini? See the list is endless.
I have some in my refrigerator right now that I am planning on serving tomorrow with a braised lamb with lemon. Sound good? Let’s hear how you use them.
Don’t forget, Queen Jeanne is always open for culinary questions. No question is too silly or too small.