At first, I felt a little lost with this one. Sure, pickling is one of the most common ways of preserving & enjoying certain foods, and it seems like a fairly simple task if you know what you’re doing. But I’d never actually done any of this on my own. Or had I? When I thought about it a little more, I realized that there were plenty of things I’d picked in the past, so I got to work on one of my two favorite pickling recipes.
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.
The other thing I love about encurtido is that it’s a delicious way for almost anyone to enjoy vegetables. And I mean those who aren’t always able to have access to the fresh stuff. Too many folks across the country are living in food deserts where fresh produce is almost never available. Pickling is a great way to preserve the veggies so they will last a bit longer for those who can’t access fresh produce on a regular basis. It also doesn’t require that the ingredients used to be fresh from the produce section. In fact, we usually make this using frozen bagged vegetables, which is the next best thing to the fresh stuff and much easier to find in areas that don’t have full-service grocery stores or farmers’ markets.
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.