Quick Pickled Onions – The Real Food Dietitians

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The 2 Week Diet

Don’t blame us if you find yourself putting these quick pickled onions on everything (and we do mean everything)…from tacos to wraps to bowls and more.

Your life is about to be forever changed.

Put down the salt and pepper, and take a little walk with me to flavor town. Don’t worry, it’s a short trip requiring just three ingredients (not including water and salt), but it’s a grand place to visit with its salty/tart/tangy/savory landscape and no-frills way of getting there. Welcome to the Land of Quick Pickled Onions. 

Though they’re already pretty amazing as they are, you could add a clove of minced garlic, some peppercorns, dried oregano and/or cumin seeds for a more authentic take on the Mexican staple, Escabeche de Cebolla, but today we’re keeping it super simple. 

And just because they’re simple doesn’t mean that they won’t soon become the condiment you’re going to want to put on everything. 

Put ’em on everything. 

Seriously, everything. Once you do, you won’t know how you ever got this far in life without them.  

I keep a jar in the fridge at all times because these quick pickled onions – besides being super-budget-friendly, allergy-friendly and easy to make – are delicious on just about everything including:

Tacos will never be the same. 

If you know me and we’ve had lunch together, there’s a 99% chance that I’ve suggested tacos as an option. It’s kind of an obsession and while I love me some barbacoa, carnitas, or simple taco meat made with high-quality ground beef and homemade taco seasoning served up with soft, homemade tortillas (corn or grain-free), it’s really about the toppings for me. 

Give me all the hot sauce, cotija cheese, guacamole, and don’t forget the quick pickled onions because they’re truly what takes tacos to the next level. And since they’re so easy to make and can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, you really have no excuse to not add them to your regular repertoire of delicious things that make you feel fancy.

It’s really so easy.

I know you can read a recipe, but sometimes pictures just make the whole process so. much. easier., so let’s make some quick pickled onions together, shall we?

First, you’ll cut the ends from a large red onion, then peel back the tough outer layer or two. Then with a very sharp knife or a mandolin slicer, you’ll slice the onion as thin as possible.

Next, you’ll combine the warm water, apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and peppercorns in a bowl, whisking until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Finally, add the onions and allow them to sit on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour before serving or transferring to a lidded glass container for storage in the fridge.

Just some final notes before you’re on your way to Flavor Town.

Although these quick pickled onions are painfully simple to make and are pretty much guaranteed to change your life, I have just a few thoughts to share before you run right off to that kitchen of yours to whip up a batch:

  • Slicing the onions REALLY thin is the secret sauce here. A sharp chef’s knife will get them pretty thin, but if you want them really thin and uniform, then a mandolin slicer is the way to go. This is the mandolin slicer that I personally use (and have for almost 15 years) and it’s a workhorse – simple to use, easy to clean (it’s dishwasher safe), cuts smooth or wavy slices, juliennes vegetables, and cuts straight fries and waffle fries. Plus, it’s the safest one I know of since the safety guide means your fingers are nowhere near the blade. I have yet to cut myself using it – I can’t recommend it enough.
  • The color and flavor of these quick pickled onions will intensify after a day or two in the fridge. If you really want to impress on taco night (and who doesn’t?!) make them 4-5 days ahead of time so they develop a gorgeous bright pink hue.
  • These are refrigerator-type pickles and are thus meant to be stored only in the fridge. They are not suitable for canning as their acid content is too low. If you’re looking for a pickled onion recipe that you can water bath can, here’s one with less sugar than traditional recipes.
  • Yes, these can be made Whole30-friendly. You just need to leave out the sugar. The taste will be less authentic and the onions will have more of a vinegary bite to them (rather than a mellow tart/mildly sweet/tangy flavor, but it’s entirely possible.
  • Quick Pickled Onions will keep in the fridge for at least 3 weeks. I can’t say we’ve ever had a jar last that long, but from the research I’ve done, 3-4 weeks appears to be the max. Of course, if at any time they start to taste ‘off,’ develop mold or become slimy, toss them out and start a new batch.

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Quick Pickled Onions

  • Author: Jessica Beacom
  • Prep Time: 15 min.
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 15 min.
  • Yield: Makes 1½ cups 1x
  • Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan

Instructions

  1. Slice onions as thin as possible and place in a shallow bowl or quart-sized mason jar. Set aside. 
  2. In a measuring cup, combine warm water, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve.
  3. Pour liquid over sliced onions and stir to combine. Press onions down so that they’re completely covered with liquid. 
  4. Cover bowl with a clean towel or loosely place lid on jar. Allow onions to rest on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour before serving or transferring to the fridge for longer storage. Will keep in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to 3 weeks (jars like this are ideal for storing and serving from) and will intensify in flavor and color. 

Note: This is a refrigerator-type pickle and not intended for canning. 

Notes

All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: ¼ cup
  • Calories: 13
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 291mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Protein: 0g

What’s your favorite way to add big flavor to dishes with little to no fuss? Don’t be shy, share in the comments below.

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About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘real food evangelist’ and loves sharing her knowledge with others to help them break free of the diet mentality and find their own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark skiing, mountain biking, teaching herself how to play the banjo and camping out under the stars.



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