Earlier this month, my colleague, Kerri, wrote a piece for Heated about cooking rice in leftover pickle juice (apparently, it's amazing). Because pickles are such "a thing," it's rare to stumble across new ways to make or use them (or their brine, as with Kerri's rice hack). It made me think of this recipe that I did for How To Grill Everything, called Quick-Pickled Charred Vegetables. I don't think I can claim to have invested this concept, but all I can say is that if you've never made a grilled pickle, you're missing out.
I'm pretty finicky about my pickles, and this technique was a total game-changer for me. All you do is char your vegetables of choice on the grill before submerging them in a vinegar brine. The idea is to get some really nice color on the vegetables while still retaining their crunch, so you'll just want to avoid things that soften quickly, like summer squash. Some specifics on veg prep (you can also find this at the top of the recipe, but I figured it's worth a look here): Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets. Firm vegetables—like fennel, kohlrabi, daikon, onion, and jícama—should be grilled in 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut into sticks. Cook whole green beans and okra (a real treat), but grill radishes whole or cut in half, depending on their size. Cucumbers hold up remarkably well on the grill; cut them into spears. And don’t forget their cousins, melons. Carrots should be left whole, halved, or quartered so the pieces are no thicker than your pinky.
Whatever you choose, the pickles will have this kind of irresistible combination of smoky char and tangy brine. You want to let them sit for at least three hours, so the flavor and texture fully develop, after which you can serve them right away, or store them in the fridge for up to a week. Of course, you also have free rein to play around with the brine. The main recipe here features a classic mixture (vinegar, salt, sugar, mustard and coriander seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves, and garlic), and there are also three different variations, one spiked with chiles and star anise, another with ginger, the third with loads of dill and red pepper flakes.
But let your imagination run wild. And, of course, please feel free to serve these with pickle brine rice.
Talk To Me, Goose!
Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.