The last two weeks have been a hazy fog of homemade toffee, pans of bar cookies, and gift bags full of holiday treats. As a girl who is overly fond of sweets, I am most certainly not complaining. I am, however, finding it increasingly necessary to take steps to counteract this all-day buzz on a combination of butter, sugar and flour.
But one bite of a pickle and I'm usually able to find balance. This pickled cauliflower is tangy but also retains a crunch and hint of cauliflower flavor. It's a quick pickle, meaning the veg is just barely blanched in the brine before going into the jar. It then rests in the fridge for a few hours or overnight before you dig in.
I will happily eat it straight out of the jar with my fingers but if you need to share it with more elevated palates, try this.
Heap a bit into a small bowl and drizzle a tablespoon or two of good olive oil over it. A bit of oil turns it from basic pickle into instant marinated salad. Serve it with some sliced rounds of baguette and creamy goat cheese. It's perfect with drinks or as a quick pre-dinner snack.
Before you start your brine, here are a few things you should know.
Make sure to trim away the cauliflower stems. Because this pickle gets only a moment's exposure to the heat of the stovetop, there's not enough time for the stems to lose their woody quality.
Feel free to play around with flavors. I used just garlic and peppercorns because I'm currently visiting my parents and their spice cabinet is a bit limited. A bay leaf, a pinch of mustard seeds, or even some red chili flakes would all be nice additions.
I used about half of the cauliflower pictured (it was a big one). You'll get approximately a quart of pickles from two pounds of cauliflower, so purchase accordingly.
Because this pickle will only live in the fridge, you don't even need a jar to make it. Any heat-resistant container that can hold the cauliflower and brine will do. I've made it in those quart-sized plastic deli containers without any issues in the past.
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About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars.