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Pickled Onions & Peppers

Today is one of those days in Santa Fe where it’s sweater and sunglass weather which might be my favorite weather of all time. So of course I have summer taco nights (and margaritas) on my mind. Oh, and I think this weekend we can take the cover off the grill which means it’s really happening. Summer is on the way. I love four season climates for this very reason. Every couple of months the home kitchen just naturally turns over into a new menu based on what’s growing and available around us, but also because what we want to eat changes.

This is a recipe for quick pickles, sometimes also called refrigerator pickles, meaning you don’t have to worry about canning it. Just store in an airtight container in the fridge and they will stay good for a month or two. This particular recipe is a tasty combo of red onion, jalapeno peppers and garlic pickled in a brine that is sweet and bright and pairs wonderfully as a taco, burger, salad, omelette, quinoa or rice bowl, sandwich topper. My advice? Bring a jar of these next time your invited to a BBQ.

2 c. boiling water
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¾ c. red wine vinegar
½ c. water (plus extra for boiling and soaking)
½ c. brown sugar
1 t. salt

1. Pour boiling water over red onion, jalapeno and garlic slices and let sit for 2 minutes. Drain.
2. Bring red wine vinegar, ½ cup of water, brown sugar and salt to a boil. Pour over onion and pepper mix.
3. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until ready to use.

Component in Action
-add other kinds of veggies like carrots, cauliflower, scallions
-add other kinds of spices like coriander, cumin, peppercorns, red chili flakes
-add other aromatics like ginger, rosemary or thyme.

Quick Pickled Onions

My very first cooking job out of culinary school was at a lovely Italian restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Chef was thoughtful and straightforward with his interpretation of Italian classics and lucky for me, gentle with his cooks. I was ready to absorb everything I could, and as all young cooks do, I showed up on my first day with a small blank notebook ready to start collecting as many recipes as I could. Assigned to the cold appetizer station, those were the days I filled my notebook with recipes of flatbread dough, gremolata, vinaigrettes, poaching liquids, aiolis, curing ratios for fish, etc. Many recipes had just a handful of ingredients.

I don’t remember exactly when I first learned about this quick pickle technique, but this is a perfect example of one of those components that once learned will stay with you for a lifetime, adding brightness to a variety of dishes. You can swap out the red wine vinegar for a different vinegar like sherry, champagne, or apple cider, change up the spices and even the sugar. I recently added these pickled onions to a salad of broccoli, raisins, blue cheese, and crunchy butter croutons. The possibilities for variations and use are endless.


1 Red Onion (sliced)
1 c. Red Wine Vinegar
½ c. Water
½ c. Brown sugar
1 t. Salt
1 t. Smoked paprika


1.) Put sliced onions in a glass jar (or other non-reactive container)
2.) In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar, water, sugar, salt and paprika to a boil.
3.) Pour over onions.
4.) Use a spoon to submerge the onions in the pickling liquid.
5.) Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight for at least three hours.

Component in Action

  • Add to salads
  • Use as a condiment on burgers and sandwiches
  • Serve with cheese and charcuterie
  • Topping for Veggies and Fish Tacos