Today, I introduce to you a cure for summer vegetable anxiety: quick and easy homemade pickles. Despite the fact that I consume more vegetables than anyone I know, I cannot keep up with all the veggies I’ve been buying at the farmers market. Peppers, squash, okra, fennel, zucchini, beets, tomato...so much is in season right now, and though I try to gather only what I'll eat for the week, I'm so tickled by all of the out-of-the-box heirloom varieties that I end up buying triple the amount I set out to. I'm sorry, but who can resist purple carrots, avocado zucchini, and yellow cucumbers!? Not this girl.
Now, what is an overly-eager vegetable splurger to do in this situation? I marvel at the idea of making preserves— peeling open a jar of home-canned tomatoes in the dead of winter for a delicious flashback to summer—but in true New Yorker fashion, I have no patience and no storage space. If I'm going to pickle or preserve, it's gotta work at my speed and be ready to eat by the next day. Enter Quick & Easy Pickles.
Sensationally vinegary with just the right amount of sweet and salty, these pickles are a cinch to whip up, requiring 30 minutes of pickling time and lasting for at least 2 weeks. You can eat them with anything and everything: on top of sandwiches, mixed into salads, a kimchi substitute in a homemade rice or grain bowl. They are virtually giardiniera in the fast lane—that lovely mix of antipasto vegetables you see sometimes at Italian restaurants. Fittingly, giardiniera translates to "garden" in English; the method was traditionally used to preserve prolific homegrown vegetables.
So back to those nonconformist heirloom veggies—what a perfect place to showcase those vibrant purple, yellow and orange hues! I urge you to seek out the craziest-colored produce you can find for this sprightly relish. Purple cauliflower is definitely up for my next batch.
Quick & Easy Pickles (from Nutrition Action newsletter)
Enough thinly sliced vegetables to fill 1 pint-sized Mason jar (16 oz), tightly packed (try onion, carrot, fennel, cucumber, cauliflower, pepper)
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp pickling spices
Bring vinegar, salt, sugar, pickling spices and ¾ cup water to boil. Pour over the vegetables to cover. Chill for at least half an hour before serving.