Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Spicy Pickled Cauliflower

11-pound cauliflower. It's sitting on a half-sheet pan.
The inspiration for these pickles was that I bought an 11-pound cauliflower. Yes, eleven pounds. It was a the farmer's market at one the stands that sells most things by the bunch or piece. I bought the monster cauliflower, and once I got it home it looked even bigger than it did at the market.

But that's okay - I like cauliflower. A lot. I planned on roasting some, maybe steaming some, and maybe some soup. I nibbled on some raw.

And then I thought that I might as well pickle some.

My second thought was that I might as well make them spicy. I didn't see any hot peppers at the farmer's market so I stopped at the local Mexican market on the way home and picked up four Serrano peppers. I didn't need anything else - just those four peppers.

And when I got to the checkout, they just gave them to me. I guess it wasn't worth ringing up a purchase for a few cents, but it was still a nice thing for them to do.

But that's okay, I'll make up for it next time. They make tortillas there that are pretty good. I'll be back for those, among other things.

I made a jar of these and as soon as I tasted them I decided to make a second jar. The second time, I added just a bit of sugar - and now I'm not sure which version I like better. The ones with sugar aren't sweet - not like sweet pickles - but it adds another dimension to the flavor.

These are refrigerator pickles, not storage pickles, so it makes sense to make small quantities.

Because of the turmeric, the cauliflower is a very bright yellow - it makes a great accent with pretty much any dish.

Spicy Pickled Cauliflower

2 Serrano peppers
1 quart cauliflower florets
2/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon kosher or pickling salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seed
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

Remove the stem from the peppers and slice them into 1/2- to 1/4-inch slices. Add those to a quart jar. Break the cauliflower into small pieces and add them to the jar.

Combine the vinegar, water, salt, turmeric, mustard seeds, and optional sugar in a small saucepan and heat to boiling - or, if you prefer, you can heat to boiling in the microwave in a microwave-safe measuring cup. Stir to make sure the sugar and salt are dissolved, and pour the hot liquid over the cauliflower.

If the liquid doesn't cover the cauliflower, add hot water as needed.

Cover the jar, let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. These are ready to eat as soon as they're fully chilled, but I think they improve even more (and they're a more vibrant yellow) after a day or so.