I have been craving all the briny things lately. Kalamata olives, tapenade, capers even, and pickled everything. Trader Joe’s started carrying spicy quick-pickled vegetables in the refrigerated section, and I’ve been enjoying those with hummus or avocado on toast. Also on salads, or just plain. Did I mention that I’m really into the briny things lately?
These pickled vegetables are modeled after traditional Mexican jalapeños en escabeche, an amazing pickled carrot, onion and jalapeño mix that you might receive with your order at a Mexican restaurant (if you’re lucky). I tried several recipes when I was recipe testing for the cookbook, but couldn’t get them quite right, so I gave up.
Trader Joe’s version inspired me to give them another shot, and I’m pleased to report that I’ve finally figured them out. Funny how it’s easier to think straight when cookbook deadlines aren’t looming. Unlike traditional jalapeños en escabeche, which are often cooked in some oil, I used just vinegar, water and spices. These pickles are fresh and light additions to any sandwich, salad or dish that needs a punch of briny flavor.
- ½ medium cauliflower, florets cut into small, bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium carrots, cut on a sharp diagonal into ⅛” thin rounds
- 1 small white or yellow onion, sliced into very thin rounds
- 2 medium jalapeños, sliced into thin rounds
- 6 garlic cloves, quartered
- 1 cup plain white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1½ tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pack the cauliflower, carrots, onion, jalapeños and garlic into a quart-sized wide-mouth mason jar. Place the jar in the sink, since you'll be pouring hot liquid into it soon.
- In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, salt, honey, bay leaf, oregano and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat, then carefully pour the hot vinegar mixture into the jar. You should have enough to completely submerge the vegetables (and maybe a little extra). Tuck the bay leaf into the side of the jar.
- Let the pickles cool to room temperature (about 1½ hours) before gently tapping the jar to remove air bubbles. The pickles should be pretty well pickled and ready to consume at this point. If you're not eating them right away, securely fasten the lid and refrigerate for up to a month.
Note on canning: I have not tried canning these in a water bath for long-term storage (I wouldn't even know how to do it). I'm not sure these would store safely for later, so I don't recommend doing it.