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Quickly pickled onions add potent punch

How about a recipe that’s embarrassingly easy to prepare, is ready in minutes, costs next to nothing and can add amazing flavor to many of your favorite meals? Are you with me? I’m talking about homemade quick pickled onions. There’s something very satisfying about making personalized condiments. Once you start making these, your fridge will never be the same. You’ll always have a jar of pickled onions waiting to add a bright zing of acid to enhance your every meal.

Now, I don’t often go to the effort of canning things. But refrigerator pickling? I’m all about it. Why? Because it’s easy. It’s practically instant gratification. This is one of those mindless things you do when the other food is cooking, in between talking on the phone, folding laundry and feeding the dog.

Quick pickling onions are as simple as marinating the onions in a brine made with water, vinegar and sugar then serving. This is not a recipe for canned red onions, and therefore this has not been tested for long-term canning storage.

Since variety is the spice of life, you can vary this recipe by using different onions (more on that below) and swapping out different vinegars and sweeteners. Your vinegar choices can be plain white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red or white wine vinegar. Sweeteners include granulated sugar, light and dark brown sugar, honey or molasses.

Can we talk onions for a minute? You can use any kind of onion and be successful with this recipe. My go-to is a red onion because it turns a beautiful shade of pink and looks so good on avocado toast.

But if sweet onions are in season, this recipe really lets them shine. Sweet onions, including Vidalia, Maui and Walla Walla sweets are less pungent than regular onions and have a natural sweetness that lends itself to this style of pickling.

This is also a great use for leftover onion when a recipe calls for half an onion and you’re left with an orphaned half an onion.

What can you do with pickled onions? You put a tangle on a taco, a bunch on a burger, a smattering on a salad, a heap on your hummus, a pile on a pizza, a knot on your nachos, a glob on a grain bowl or an assemblage on a sandwich.

Chop pickled onion in a food processor with sour cream or mayonnaise to make quick dip or sandwich spread. Make a lovely chilled appetizer serving onions massed on top of softened cream cheese with crackers for a summer barbecue and a jar of quick pickles always makes a lovely hostess gift.

With summer in full swing, you’re never more than 15 minutes away from crisp, cool, take-all-the-credit, I made these with love, pickled onions. I hope you agree, that’s a pickle you don’t mind being in.

QUICK PICKLED ONIONS

What you’ll need:

1 heaping cup onion, thinly sliced

½ cup vinegar

½ cup water

½ tablespoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

Optional: ½ tablespoon fresh or dried spices, herbs and/or pickling spice blend

Here’s how:

Thinly slice your onions and place them into a large glass canning jar or 3-cup or larger glass measuring cup.

To prepare the brine, pour the vinegar and water into a saucepan with the rest of the ingredients (salt, sugar and optional spices), bring to a simmer and pour right into the jar with the onions. Put a lid on the jar and place in the fridge at least 10 minutes or overnight. Simple. I know, right?

The longer you let them set the “pickle-ier” they will be. Keep your pickled onions refrigerated and, in the brine, and they’ll last two to three weeks in the refrigerator. Or so I hear. Mine never last that long.

If you’d like to add flavors to your onions (and who wouldn’t?) items you can add include whole black peppercorns, jalapenos, red pepper flakes, whole garlic cloves, fresh herbs, fresh ginger and bay leaves.

One last thing: That pickling liquid is an absolute treasure. Use it anywhere you’d add a squeeze of citrus or splash of vinegar to brighten flavors, with the added complexity of the onion piquancy. Add it to marinades and vinaigrettes but save a few spoonfuls for the best bloody Mary you’ve ever had.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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