This time around, we've been called to party together in a different way. Our assignment: pickling. That's right - for our August "party", food enthusiasts have been asked to pickle things. Not just cucumbers, which is the first thing most of us think of when we think of pickling. We have been told to go on & pickle away to our hearts' content. Nothing is off limits: vegetables, fruits, eggs... if it can be pickled, we've been called to do it.
After soliciting some help from my mom who was visiting me this weekend, we set about making encurtido, a very simple, yet beyond flavorful recipe for Colombian style pickled vegetables. Not to be confused with curtido, a traditional Salvadorean pickled cabbage slaw that is commonly served with pupusas, encurtido is something I've enjoyed since my childhood. One of my favorite non-guilty "guilty" pleasures, I love to eat this over a bit of brown rice for a simple summer dinner. It's healthy & light, but so incredibly tasty there's no way one could ever feel "cheated" eating this stuff.
While the vegetables I've listed are the ones that we usually use, you're more than welcome to use your favorite veggies to make this your own. I have it on good authority from the master encurtido maker herself (me mum) that you want to stick to sturdier vegetables like carrots, cauliflower and the like, so that they keep their texture & form better the longer they pickle. Other than that, there's not much to note on this one except that you can serve it on just about anything. Use it as a side, as a base for salads, or tapas style for a nice summer dinner party. Let's check out the recipe.
Encurtido (makes 8-10 1-cup servings; total cost per serving: $1)
1 16 oz. bag frozen broccoli, cauliflower & carrot blend (commonly called "California style" blend)
1 16 oz. bag frozen peas
1 16 oz. bag frozen green beans
1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1" pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, sliced in half
1/2 head green cabbage, cut into 2" strips
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 c white vinegar
2 T cumin
1 T salt
For blanching the veggies:
6 c water
1 T salt
1. Bring the 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a rolling boil. Working in separate batches, blanche all the frozen veggies and the cabbage for about 1 minute apiece. Then blanche the Brussels sprouts for about 90 seconds. (NOTE: Do not blanche the onions.) After each batch, immediately plunge the blanched veggies into cold water to stop the cooking process, then place in a large bowl with the onions.
2. In a separate small bowl, combine the remaining water, vinegar, cumin & salt, and whisk together. Pour the mixture over the vegetables and toss until everything is completely combined.
3. Place the encurtido in glass jars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to allow the vegetables to begin the pickling process. Serve over rice, as a side for meats or as a zesty salad topper, and enjoy!