Earlier this year, I stared sadly at the black-bean-and-sweet-potato tacos I had prepared, unable to think about anything other than what they were missing: pickled red onions. It was at this moment, for the first time in my 20-plus years, that I had the embarrassingly obvious realization that I could simply make them at home. Since that fateful day, I’ve never let my stock fully deplete, which I appreciated this morning as I sprinkled them over fried eggs and sliced avocado. It’s so nice of me to keep pickled red onions available to myself at all times, I thought to myself. Why doesn’t everyone do this?
Pickled red onions are extremely easy to prepare, versatile, and delicious — and there’s no better time than now to make room for them in your fridge. Perhaps you, like me, are running out of ways to occupy yourself during all this imposed alone time; maybe you are also tiring of your staple home-cooked meals. You know what will use up some of that time (but not too much) and revive your boring avocado toast and one-note curried lentils? Pickled red onions.
To prepare mine, I typically go with a quick-pickle method: I slice a red onion into half moons and dump the halved rings into a jar with apple-cider vinegar, a generous pinch of salt, and a tiny glug of maple syrup or a spoonful of sugar. Then, I’ll let that sit for at least a few hours and store the jar in the fridge, where the liquid will turn progressively pinker as the days go on. But you can take liberties with this formula: Some people omit a sweetener altogether, or you can boil the pickling liquid before pouring it over the onions to quicken the process.
And then, enjoy the fruits of your (minimal) labor. My favorite ways to use them includes sprinkling them on top of tacos, or pretty much any type of egg; I once added them to coconut-curried red lentils, and they cut through the richness quite nicely. But your options are endless: Stuff them in sandwiches, throw them in a salad, or even just snack on a bright-pink ring by itself.
Sure, pickled red onions may not be fluffy coffee or home-baked sourdough bread, but they are, in my opinion, a much more fruitful culinary undertaking. Fluffy coffee is fun but totally frivolous; sourdough bread is, as I’m sure many new aspiring boulangers have learned over the past few weeks, pretty labor-intensive! Pickled red onions, meanwhile, are just as photogenic, and just as good, if not better.