23 August 2010

Ready when you are

This week is a little slice of madness for me, and that's just the time when you need things in your fridge or pantry that are simply ready when you are.

Like pickled onions. Of course, this is nothing new, and excellent cooks have been filling their refrigerators with jars of the stuff for far longer than I've known how to boil pasta. The thing is, it's just not something home cooks do very often, despite the simplicity of it all.

Here's the rundown: Thinly slice onions. I like to use red onions and slice them on the mandolin, so I make quick work and get even, consistent slices. Stuff the onions into a glass jar or other non-reactive container. Then add vinegar to completely cover the onions. I like the combination of red wine vinegar and red onions. Cover, refrigerate and let cure for at least a day and up to a couple of weeks.

Check out this recipe for a great blend of spices to add. You can choose to simply do the vinegar and onions or play with your own spice mixture.

The best part is that once your onions are pickled, you can make any number of fantastic recipes. The onions turn a brilliant purple-pink color, and the taste is amazing. A bright, vivid punch of tang and slightly sweet. No harsh onion taste. Few other things bring so much color and flavor to finished dishes. Add them to salads -- everything from green to pasta to potato to rice salads. And don't forget sandwiches, humus plates, meat dishes and more. Take a couple of tablespoons of the brine, whisk together with equal parts olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Instant salad dressing.

Go do this now. Tomorrow you'll thank the brilliant cooks who came up with this insanely simple technique.

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