I had so much fun hanging out with the Indy Style crew today! In honor of National Pickle Day (November 14), I made pickled red onions.
Red onions are some of the easiest and most versatile pickles you can make. Try them on burgers, grilled cheese, tacos, salads, pizza… the possibilities are endless. They’re also delicious to incorporate into your favorites dips or appetizer spreads.
Whatever you do… use your pickled onions! I know many people who’ve tried pickling, and then let the jars sit in their refrigerator because they weren’t sure what to do with them. So, with that in mind, I’m also including two recipes that incorporate the pickled onions. Both would be nice additions to the appetizer table at your next gathering.
These onions are refrigerator pickles, which means it’s doable for everyone, including those of you who haven’t taken the canning plunge. No boiling water bath required for these babies! They will keep forever and a day in your refrigerator. (But don’t put them in your pantry. The fridge is where they should live until they’re gone.)
The starting point for this recipe was a delicious pickled onion from Zuni Cafe. But I’ve modified and simplified it, since the original recipe is a multiple-stage process that’s a bit tedious, and highly impractical for a five-minute television segment. I also tweaked the flavors to my liking. The result is a pickle that I think is delicious in its own right, and was a heckuva lot faster. Please note that you have lots of room to play with the actual spices here. I used a dried hot pepper, allspice, cloves, and black peppercorns. But if there are other things you love, go crazy. Other options to toss in might include mustard seed, celery seed, cinnamon sticks, star anise, fennel seed, red pepper flakes, etc. If you decide to add some combination (or all!) of these, I would suggest a TOTAL of one tablespoon (ish) of additional spices.
So… grab your onions. It’s time to pickle! (Oh… I know my photos here won’t win any art contests. I forgot my purse AND camera when I left for Indy Style this morning, so I improvised with the Hipstamatic app on my phone. Bear with me.)
- 4 cups sliced red onions
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 dried hot pepper, cut into 2 pieces
- scant 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- scant 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 2 pint-size mason jars
- Blanch the onions by putting them in a bowl and covering them with boiling water. Let stand for one minute. Drain onions, rinse with cold running water, and set aside.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, cloves, black peppercorns, and allspice in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for three minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for several minutes so flavors can develop.
- While the brine is resting, put the drained onions into the mason jars. Remove the bay leaves from the brine. Pour the rest of the brine over the onions in the jars, trying your best to evenly distribute the spices and dried pepper between the two jars. Put the lids on the jars, and allow to cool to room temperature. Put jars in the refrigerator. Allow at least two days for the flavor to develop in the pickled onions before eating them. It will be deepen and intensify over time.
So… now that you have your pickled red onions, let’s do something with them! Below, two recipes that will have you screaming for more.
Cream Cheese Spread with Pickled Red Onions and Chives
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons pickled red onions, chopped
- 3 teaspoons chives, chopped
- 1 seedless cucumber
- your favorite crackers
- Combine cream cheese, onions, and chives. Stir until onions and chives are evenly distributed throughout cream cheese.
- Serve alongside crackers and on top of thickly-sliced cucumbers. (Or whatever else sounds good to you. You’re the boss of your dip.)
- French baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- Olive oil for drizzling on bread
- 1/2 cup pickled red onion, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling on bread slices
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 oz bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place bread slices on large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with coarse-ground kosher salt.
- Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes, turning over bread slices half-way through the cooking time. (Actual time may vary based on the temperature peculiarities of your own oven.) Remove from oven when slices are crispy and dry.
- When bread comes out of the oven and is still warm, rub the oiled side of each slice with a raw garlic clove. Set aside.
- While bread is in the oven, fry the bacon until crispy. (This can be done a day ahead.) Drain on paper towel-lined plate.
- Combine ricotta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon course-ground salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper in a bowl. Stir until salt and pepper are evenly distributed. (NOTE: this ricotta spread is deliberately peppery. If you’re not a pepper freak like me, feel free to reduce the amount.)
- Combine the balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl or jar. Add fresh-ground pepper to your liking. Whisk until smooth.
- Spread each bread slice with ricotta cheese, and top with chopped pickled onions, bacon, and chives. Drizzle lightly with the honey-balsamic mixture. Serve immediately.