I have a secret. An un-American food revelation that makes me very strange (according to my husband). So weird he cringes if he’s with me at a deli counter, taking a few steps back to make it look like we aren’t together. He’s thinking “don’t say it!” His composure is that of tweens when their parents hug or kiss them in public. Major embarrassment without a thought given to the person I’m with.
“Could you leave the pickles off?” I ask. How could I be so selfish? He’s wondering.
He moves a little closer to me and says”just leave them, I’ll eat them.” He hangs his head down while realizing he knows my response will be even more embarrassing than the question.
“No, I don’t want the bread to get soggy with pickle juice” I say. There it is. Total vinegary denial. Something born in our culture that is missing from my food genes. Or is it?
I hate pickles. I admit it, but I know it isn’t the vinegar or the cucumbers. It’s the dill. There is something about dill that causes an instant gag reflex. Any hint of dill flavor becomes overpowering and that reflex kicks in. No dill, trendy dill pollen, dill seed, or dill oil.
So I don’t eat canned pickles or deli pickles. When I want pickles, I make my own quick pickled veggies and leave the dill out. They are fresher, crisper, better and they remind me of childhood. An all-American, cucumber and onion fresh pickle like the ones my Mom served in that small steel utility bowl that kept them cold on the table, even on hot summer evenings.
We often forget about the importance of pickles and fresh relish trays on the dinner table. They provide an extra nutrition boost when you have finicky eaters. They complement fatty foods, heavy foods and foods that lack texture. They are inexpensive and quick to prepare. And they taste great!
What can you do with them? Say “hold the pickle” to the deli’s dills and use your own to garnish that corned beef or ham on rye. Serve them as a side dish with fish, meat or beans. Dress a burger, sausage or hot dog. Turn your rice or quinoa into a fresh pickled pilaf or make them into a fresh pasta salad.
Here’s a recipe for quick pickled veggies that includes edamame for extra color and nutrition (one cup of edamame, steamed in shell provides 8 grams of fiber, 17 grams of protein, and is high in vitamin K, Folate and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids).
Quick Pickled Veggies with Edamame
2 tablespoons white vinegar, rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
juice and zest of one lemon (save a slice or two of lemon for pickling)
1 teaspoon honey (or sugar for vegan version)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 dried dragon cayenne pepper whole or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup water
Place all ingredients in a microwave safe jar or container and heat on high for one minute. Let cool completely, or drop an ice cube or two in to cool quickly.
Place one cup pre-steamed, shelled edamame with cleaned, sliced and chopped assorted veggies of your choosing in a clean jar or bowl with a few half slices of lemon and pour pickling brine over. A sprig or two of fresh herbs would be good too, if you have it. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Eat within one week.
For my veggies I used what I had in my refrigerator; sweet red pepper, cucumbers, thinly sliced purple onion and radish.
The edamame will turn a greenish gray color the longer they sit in the pickling brine. If the color turns you off, simply pickle your other veggies as directed and hold the edamame back. Add the steamed and cooled edamame about 30 minutes before serving.
Don’t throw the pickle brine in the jar away. It makes a great salad dressing! Just whisk or shake it together with extra virgin olive oil in a ratio of 3 tablespoons oil to 2 tablespoons of brine. If watching your oil consumption, reduce the oil amount and add in a tablespoon of prepared mustard or plain nonfat yogurt and some minced fresh herbs.