When you want a bit of that salsa zing but don’t have the tropical ingredients handy for a no nightshade creation, simple pickled onions can carry the day. They are easy to make and keep around, and very easy to experiment with.
You’ll want to slice the onions thinly. Maybe you have a mandoline and that will make the slicing go more quickly, but really they make me nervous so unless you’re 100 percent certain you’re not going to cut the tips of your fingers off you might just want to practice your knife skills. There’s really so little work here that it’s almost a shame to waste the cleaning effort.
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you’ve read the warning above!)
- 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup hot or warm water
- (optional) spices that fit your meal
1A note about quantities: Who really knows what the recipe writer means when he says 1 red onion? Onions range in size from cute mandarin orange to plus size grapefruit, right? Usually I like to work with onions that are about medium grapefruit size. But red onions, at least where I shop, tend to be just a little bit smaller than their blondish kin. The reality is, there is really no way to precisely calibrate onion quantity to brine quantity in this recipe. Too many variables, from onion size to container size to onion packing strategy. You’re just going to have to wing it. But because you’re almost always going to need sliced onions, you can always cut a little extra to make sure no brine is wasted.
2Pack the red onions in a jar. If you’re going to boil the pickle brine, which is what I like to do, be sure it’s a jar that can take the heat. Mix water, vinegar, sugar, and salt. You can bring the mixture to a boil if you like, then pour over the onions. Using this technique you can make them in the afternoon for the night’s meal. If you have a little extra time, you don’t even need to bother with the boil. Just pour and seal and stick them in the fridge for a day.
3I like mixing things up in the vinegar department—there are so many kinds! Toss a juniper or allspice berry into the vinegar mix as you’re bringing it up to heat.
4These should keep in the fridge for a few weeks, if you can keep yourself from eating them.