Okay, this recipe probably doesn’t make you think Father’s Day. However, in my world of “Dads,” Quick Pickled Veggies is a highly requested dish by the father of some of my most favorite people – so I’m including it! Besides, most Dads love sandwiches and these pickled veggies are the perfect accompaniment. Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, are vegetables brined in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, salt, and sometimes, sugar or sweetener. Garlic, herbs and whole spices provide additional flavor. Jalapeno, other hot peppers, or crushed dried pepper give the pickles some heat and oomph. Quick pickles can be made and enjoyed in 48 hours. Naturally gluten-free, make them without the optional sugar/sweetener and they are also vegan, low-carb, and keto-friendly.
In my experience, you either like pickled food or you don’t. If you fall into the latter category (and you know who you are), you are under no obligation to try this! For everyone else, this is a super-easy way to liven up salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Best of all, you are in charge. You get to pick whatever vegetables you want, and almost any veggie will work with this recipe, including cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, radishes, turnips, mushrooms, tomatoes, green beans – to name just a few. I’ve used them all. I decide based on what’s in the fridge. Today, I used Brussel Sprouts, baby carrots, grape tomatoes, radishes, sweet mini peppers, one red chili pepper, and a jalapeno.
Depending on which veggies you choose, some may require slightly different treatment. Cut root veggies, like carrots or turnips, in matchsticks or coins, or use baby carrots, just as they are. Grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are best when used whole. Blanching green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus will keep their bright green color intact. I blanched the Brussels sprouts in a microwave-safe bowl covered with a wet paper towel and nuked for 1-2 minutes (depending on the amount) and rinsed them under cold water. Blanching is purely optional, but I like the vivid green color it produces, and it doesn’t take much time or effort.
The garlic doesn’t count as a veggie; it’s part of the flavoring. Toss four whole garlic cloves in the vinegar solution as the sugar and salt dissolve to flavor the solution. Later, they will be added to the jars. The other two cloves are peeled and finely sliced and also divided between the jars.
White or white distilled vinegar is the perfect vinegar for quick pickles. However, it’s not the only option. Apple cider, rice, and white wine vinegar are all options. You can use just one vinegar or, like me, use one cup of white vinegar and one cup of apple cider vinegar. Stay clear of aged or concentrated vinegar like balsamic or malt vinegar. Malt vinegar will tint your vegetables with a brown hue that isn’t very attractive.
There are unlimited combination possibilities for the whole spice. Use two teaspoons of any combination of black or tri-colored peppercorns, crushed red pepper, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and celery seeds. Ground turmeric or smoked paprika can be added for additional color. I had enough flavor going on, so I passed on those.
As far as flavoring goes, there are all sorts of options starting with the herbs. Fresh is best; if you grow herbs or have fresh herbs on hand, use a few sprigs of just one or a combination of rosemary, thyme, oregano, or dill. I grow herbs in a window garden, so I chose to use an assortment. If you don’t have fresh herbs, dried herbs will work. I always used dried herbs until this last year when I started growing them. Dry herbs are more concentrated than fresh herbs. Use just 1-2 teaspoons dried on just one dried herb or any combination.
The brine is very simple, boil the water and reduce a simmer. Add the whole cloves of garlic, cook for five minutes, and add the vinegar, sugar (if using), and salt. Adding sugar or sweetener (Splenda or Stevia) helps keep the brine from getting too sharp, but it’s not required. Stir to dissolve and remove from heat. Ta-da! You just made quick pickling brine. Divide the herbs, spices, minced garlic, and cooked garlic cloves (from the saucepan) between 2 clear 1-quart jars (or three smaller jars). Tightly pack (without squishing) the vegetables into the jars, leaving a half-inch of space from the rim.
Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, completely covering the veggies. Let the jars cool before closing the lids. Then, place in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours to allow the flavor to develop fully. The pickled veggies will keep for a month (not that they will last that long!). Use the pickled veggies as colorful garnishes for sandwiches, burgers, bratwurst, or salads. The right note of sharp, acidic flavor is also the perfect balance for cheese platters and charcuterie boards.
Quick Pickled VeggiesCourse: Sides, Garnish, SaladCuisine: Gluten0-Free, Vegan, Keto-FriendlyDifficulty: Easy
Choose any combination of veggies, herbs, and spices with this quick and easy brine to create a brightly colored, crunchy, spicy, and tangy side dish! Perfect for garnishing sandwiches, enhancing salads, and balancing out flavors on a cheese platter or charcuterie board.
2 pounds assorted fresh vegetables (any combination)
Sprigs fresh herbs per taste (such as thyme, dill, rosemary, oregano)
1-2 teaspoons assorted whole spices, such as black peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and celery seeds.
6 cloves garlic (divided: 2 cloves sliced, 4 gloves whole)
Optional: 1-2 hot peppers (Jalapeno, serrano, or red chili peppers) – deseeded and sliced
2 cup white vinegar (or combination of white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and/or rice vinegar)
2 cup water
2 tablespoon kosher salt,
Optional: 2 tablespoon granulated sugar or sugar substitute
- Prep veggies by cleaning, trimming and cutting into desired shapes and sizes. Green vegetables (Brussels sprouts, beans, asparagus) may be blanched (see notes) to maintain their bright green color. Peel the garlic cloves, slice 2 cloves, and set aside the other four.
- In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add 4 whole garlic cloves. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt, raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.
- Divide the herbs, spices, minced garlic, and cooked garlic cloves (from the saucepan) between 2 clear 1-quart jars (or three smaller jars). Tightly pack (without squishing) the vegetables into the jars, leaving a half-inch of space from the rim. Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables, completely covering the veggies. Let the jars completely cool before covering them with the lids. Place in the refrigerator for at least 48 hours to allow the flavor to fully develop. The pickled veggies will keep for a month (not that they will last that long!).
- Vegetables: Use any fresh vegetable including baby carrots, grape tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, radishes, red onion, sweet peppers, green beans, asparagus, cauliflower, cucumbers, red cabbage, turnips.
- Vinegar: Any basic vinegar will work in quick pickles. White (or distilled) vinegar is the most popular, but apple cider, white wine, and rice vinegar all work well. Use one or in combination. Malt vinegar is not recommended as it will give your veggies an unappealing brownish color. Aged or concentrated vinegar like balsamic should also be avoided.
- Fresh Herbs: If you have fresh herbs, use them! If you don’t, dried herbs will work just as well. The recommend herbs are (any combination) dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, chives. Dry herbs are more potent than fresh, a combined 2 teaspoons are plenty.
- Spice: Any combination of peppercorns, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and seeds (celery, mustard, and coriander) up to 2 teaspoons.
- Blanching Option: Green veggies (green beans, asparagus Brussels Sprouts) can be blanched to intensify and maintain their bright green color. To blanch, place the green veg in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with a wet paper towel and nuke for 1-2 minutes, depending on the amount. Rinse under cold running water. Blanching will also slightly soften the vegetables. Blanching is optional.
- Sugar: The sugar helps balance the sharpness in the brine. Sugar substitute and sweetener can also be used. While optional, it is recommended.