Anyone visiting my house who happens to peek into the fridge is always aghast at the sheer number of condiments we have on hand. Homemade mayo, five kinds of mustard (at least), assorted jams and jellies, hot sauces, sweet pickles, dill pickles, sweet pickle relish, pickled sweet and hot cherry peppers, olives, you get the idea. I kid you not, the entire second shelf of the fridge (and some of the third shelf as well) are solely dedicated to condiments.
Surprisingly, the one condiment I don’t keep on hand nor have I ever made is pickled red onions. For a girl who lived in Mexico and cooks Mexican food quite frequently–from scratch–this is quite egregious. Call me crazy, but this simple pickling process has just not been on my radar.
I absolutely adore this brightly-colored condiment when served in a restaurant (and might even sneak them off of David’s plate, too) and I am freak for anything pickled, so what has taken me so long? I am asking myself that exact same question.
Let’s Get Pickled
In less than 10 minutes of actual cooking time and an hour resting, we devoured these addictive pickled red onions. They added just the right amount of punch to our open-faced roasted pork loin sandwiches with provolone and arugula (which I served with dijon green beans and the famous Lent potato salad), but could also be topped on tacos or my new favorite quinoa salad or served on the side of tender sauteed greens or a hearty green leafy salad for a much-needed pop of acidity.
Alternatively, try serving them alongside a savory bowl of slow-cooked beans or with rich-flavored, fatty meats such as barbecue, pulled pork or roasted chicken for just the right zip to counterbalance the heaviness of smoked and roasted meats. No matter what you are eating, I promise these pickled red onions will add a splash of color, a punch of texture and plenty of zing to your plate.
What I loved about this process was the teensy bit of salt and sugar (1/2 teaspoon of each) it required and the quick blanching of the onions which still left them crunchy but not raw. All you need is one red onion and a bit of vinegar and these pickled red onions will forever be within your reach.
Note: When we ate these beauties with our open-faced pork sandwich, David asks, so what else can we make this week to go with these pickled red onions? If that’s not a vote of approval, I am not sure what is…
Quick Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium red onion
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Possible add-ins for even more flavor (I added peppercorns, thyme and a dried chili):
- 5-10 whole black peppercorns
- 1 small garlic clove halved
- 1/2 thinly sliced jalapeno
- 5 allspice berries
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 1 small dried chili
- A few sprinkles of red pepper flakes
Put 2-3 cups of water in a kettle and bring to a boil.
Peel and thinly slice the red onion into 1/4" slices. If using garlic, peel and slice in half. If using, jalapeno, thinly slice half of the pepper.
Place the onions (and garlic and jalapeno, if using) in a colander and set in the sink.
Choose a glass container for storing the pickled red onions, as plastic will not work. In that container, add the salt and sugar and vinegar and whisk well until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Toss in any additional items such as dried chili, thyme, peppercorns, etc. and stir well to combine.
By now the water might be boiling. When it is, gently pour over the onions in the colander and let the water drain well.
Shake the colander to remove any additional water and then add the onions to the container of vinegar, stirring gently to evenly distribute the flavors and help wilt the onions a bit.
Let sit for one hour on the counter, stirring occasionally and then chill and store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks, but you're going to devour them in less time, just like we did.