Oh my goodness! I can’t believe I haven’t posted in almost two weeks. Cray-town, I know. Although I’m not completely sure how long it’s been, these past few weeks feel like a blur. But anyway, lack of posting doesn’t mean I’ve taken a break from the kitchen. Quite the opposite actually. After completing all of my culinary school classes, I’ve moved on to the required 100-hour internship. I was lucky enough to score an awesome internship at a super cool cafe/market, with a health-conscious, hipster vibe, in downtown Manhattan. It’s only my second week and I’m already learning a ton. Somehow, I still have the energy to be cooking up a storm at home, which includes my normal experimentation plus tons of meal-prep practice.
Now, you may be thinking, “you’ve been cooking up a storm for two weeks and all you have to show for it is pickled onions”? Good question, but not exactly. I have so many recipes to share, but before these full recipes can post, I need to get the accessory components posted. You see, these aren’t just random pickled red onions. This easy and healthy condiment elevates many of the dishes I make; salads, sandwiches, avocado toasts, you name it! Last week, these pickled red onions added the perfect sweet and tangy bite to some amazing falafel wraps. The week before that, a pizza topper. These pickled onions bring a flavor punch to any dish, but don’t be scared. The punch is not the punch of a raw red onion, it’s far more palatable than that. Not everyone likes raw red onion, but pretty much everyone can get behind the vinegar-y, sweet bite of a deliciously easy and healthy pickled red onion. And now, I have this easy recipe ready to go for any future post that requires pickled red onions.
I have homemade pickled red onions sitting in the fridge almost always. They have a super long shelf life and work with pretty much every cuisine and type of food, except maybe dessert. I love the flavor, color and texture they add to my vegetable-centric cooking. It’s one of those secret ingredients (like my garlicky-roasted cherry tomatoes), that adds “umph” and “pow” to a dish, especially one that lacks the richness of meat or dairy. It’s one of those ingredients that foodies, especially meat-free foodies, should keep stocked at all times.
Finally, to bring it all full circle here, this is also a coincidentally relevant recipe because the restaurant where I’m interning is a huge fan of not only pickled red onion, but lots of other pickled goodies too. As soon as I realized, I knew it was the right place for me (among many other reasons, like great coffee, a focus on quality ingredients and laid-back vibe). So there you have it, it’s officially a trick of the trade to elevated eats. Enjoy!
Quick & Easy Pickled Red Onions
Yield: 1.5 to 2 cups
1/3 cup+ red wine vinegar
1/3 cup+ water, room temp or slightly warmer
1 teaspoon maple syrup (or other sweetener), optional
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
In a glass mason jar (or any storage container large enough to hold 16 ounces), combine vinegar, 1/3 cup water, sweetener (if using) and salt. Stir or shake (lid on), until salt is mostly dissolved. Set aside.
To sliced onion like I do… Cut onion into quarters by making two cuts through the root ends. Remove outer layer of each quarter, discard. Thinly slice onion quarters. It’s important to slice them as thinly as possible. Separate layers as you add onion slices to the liquid-filled jar and push down until all onions are submerged. Add up to 2 tablespoons more of vinegar and water, in equal amounts, until onions are submerged. You’ll likely have to push the onion slices to fit into the jar, they can be tightly packed. Shake jar or stir once more to combine.
Allow onions to sit refrigerated for at least 1 hour. They really only need 20 minutes to add lots of flavor to dishes. But of course, the longer they sit, the deeper the flavor becomes and the brighter the pink hue gets. A deep, deep pink develops after 2-4 days.
Once you’ve tried the basic recipe, customize by adding whole garlic cloves, more sweetener or chili flakes to the pickling liquid.