Brilliant Basics Archives - Birdseed Kitchen

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Colorful, crunchy, and convenient, these Quick Pickled Red Onions take about ten minutes to prepare, and last for a month in the refrigerator. They are a piquant accompaniment to pork, a brilliant sandwich topping, or just the thing to brighten up a simple plate of scrambled eggs. Because they are so versatile, they are the second recipe in our series, Brilliant Basics.

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I am a fan of pickles from all parts of the world, and an avid collector of pickle recipes. (Visit my “Pickles from Around the World” board on Pinterest to check out some of my favorites!)

There’s nothing quite like the salty-sour (or spicy, or sweet) crunch of a homemade pickle. They make a great palate cleanser and condiment. My favorite Mexican restaurant in town serves a small side of pickled cauliflower, carrots, and jalapeños with their delicious tacos. I always order extra pickled daikon and carrots next to my banh mi sandwich. When I order a burger, it’s usually with extra pickles. And my mom still cans homemade pickles every year – mostly pickled red beets, and old-fashioned, bright green, sweet cinnamon pickles that we refer to as “green oil pickles.” (Has anyone else heard of Green Oil Pickles? I can’t find a recipe on the web for them anywhere. Leave me a comment if you have seen them around.)

I don’t can pickles myself (yet!) but I LOVE making refrigerator pickles. These Quick Pickled Red Onions couldn’t be easier. We serve them with tacos, pulled pork, and Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas. I like to make them right in a wide-mouth quart mason jar. If you don’t have access to a jar, any non-reactive container will do. They should marinate for at least an hour for best flavor, and will keep well in the refrigerator for about a month.

This recipe is based on a recipe from Rick Bayless, one of our favorite chefs, and comes from his book entitled, “Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico.”

Quick Pickled Red Onions
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Quick Pickled Red Onions

This recipe makes one quart of pickled red onions. They keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, and are even better the next day.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 16 1/4 cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp light amber agave nectar

Instructions

  1. Slice onion into thin half-moons, about 1/8 inch thick. Pack into a quart-sized Mason jar or other non-reactive container with a tight-fitting lid.

  2. In a glass measuring cup, combine remaining ingredients. Microwave on high for 3 minutes.

  3. Pour brine over onions in jar. Close the lid, and gently shake the jar to distribute the brine with the onions. If necessary, pack onions down with a spoon so they are submerged in brine. 

  4. Refrigerate for a minimum of one hour, or overnight, before serving. Store for about a month in the refrigerator.

Recipe Notes

Based on a recipe by Rick Bayless that originally appeared in "Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico."

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Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

The crisp, firm texture, bright sweetness and subtle heat of Peppadew Peppers makes them ideal for a spicy Peppadew relish. This Peppadew Relish is a condiment you’ll want to keep on hand for topping burgers, mixing with cream cheese to serve with fresh vegetables, or stuffing inside small tomatoes for an easy appetizer.

What’s a Peppadew?

If you haven’t encountered Peppadew peppers yet, it’s because they are a relatively new product. Discovered in 1993 in the Limpopo province of South Africa, Peppadews are now exclusively cultivated there, pickled in a sweet vinegar brine, and sold as a trademarked product of Peppadew International. The company describes them on the label as “piquanté peppers.” It’s not clear which cultivar of pepper plant they come from, but they seem to be closely-related to a hot cherry pepper, or at least their taste and texture is similar.

What sets Peppadew peppers apart is their refreshing (thus the “dew” part of the name) crisp texture, relatively mild heat, and sweet picking treatment that perfectly balances their spiciness. They are best eaten only briefly cooked (such as on a pizza), or eaten raw as part of an appetizer (stuffed with cheddar cheese), a salad, or made into this zingy Peppadew Relish.

Being the DIYer and occasional gardener, while I was researching the Peppadew for this post, I though, “can I grow Peppadew plants and pickle these little peppers myself?” As it turns out, the answer is noooooo! – unless you are willing to engage in international plant piracy and the illegal importation of an agricultural product. (I am not.)

As I discovered, the Peppadew variety is actually rights-protected by The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). As such, the plants or seeds are not sold by Peppadew International, although some people do acquire them through nefarious means. I’ve heard that birds carry the peppers away from the fenced and guarded fields where they grow these peppers in South Africa, and people collect the seeds. It’s still probably illegal if someone plants those seeds, but I’m sure the birds who drop the peppers a few miles away aren’t lawyering up anytime soon. Life… finds a way! That said, besides being illegal, it is a bad idea to sneak non-native species, animals or plants, into places they do not belong!

Where can I find Peppadews?

So, how do you legally acquire some Peppadew peppers? They’re often sold in bulk near the olives and other bulk relishes. You might also find them in jars (mild or hot – go for mild), or you can buy them online. They are most often red, but I’ve started seeing a bright yellow-orange variety show up called Goldew. What’s lovely about both varieties are their texture and flavor. Choose firm, non-mushy peppers to ensure that they are as crisp and juicy as possible.

I originally developed this recipe to top some lamb burgers, along with a parmesan crisp. While the burgers were tasty, as it turned out, this relish really needs to sit after it’s prepared so the flavors have a chance to meld together. So make it a day ahead if you can, and stash it in the fridge. Then use it to top sandwiches, deviled eggs, cheese and crackers, or blend into cream cheese for an excellent veggie dip. (I’m excited to post the specific recipe for this dip soon! You might want to follow me on Facebook or subscribe to my email list so you don’t miss it.)

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish
Print

Peppadew Sweet Pepper Relish

The crisp, firm texture, bright sweetness and subtle heat of Peppadew Peppers makes them ideal for a spicy Peppadew relish. This Peppadew Relish is a condiment you'll want to keep on hand for topping burgers, mixing with cream cheese to serve with fresh vegetables, or stuffing inside small tomatoes for an easy appetizer.

Ingredients

  • 1 small shallot halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp parsley leaves packed
  • 8 oz red Peppadew peppers drained
  • 8 oz golden Peppadew peppers drained
  • 2 tsp capers drained
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, add shallot, garlic, and parsley. Pulse until finely minced, occasionally scraping large unchopped bits from the sides.

  2. Add remaining ingredients. Pulse until chopped evenly, scraping sides a needed. You're looking for a consistency similar to sweet pickle relish. Adjust seasoning as needed.

  3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight before serving.

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