Three years ago, I would have turned my nose up at anything and everything vinegar. I hated the smell. I hated the taste. I rejected a lot of recipes with vinegar front and center. Fast forward to the day when I forgot to order my burger without pickled onions. The whole world should have come crashing down, but instead I discovered that I loved pickled onions; from there my appreciation of vinegar was born.
I started to crave vinegary foods. I pickled my own onions and jalapenos. I made salad dressings other than Caesar! I was amazed at the balance a vinegar element could bring to a dish. Rich foods that were previously super heavy somehow felt lighter with the addition on vinegar.
So to show my newfound appreciation of vinegary foods, I present to you pickled red onions. I put these babies on everything…eggs, burgers, sandwiches, pizza…you name it. They are tangy with a hint of sweetness and a smoky undertone. My secret is the addition of dried chipotle morita chilies. You might be familiar with chipotles in adobo. Chipotle morita chilies are red jalapenos that are smoked until nearly dried. I throw two dried chilies into the pickling liquid. The fruitiness and smokiness from the chilies permeates the red onions as they pickle, giving them that extra punch of flavor.
A few notes on this recipe…I used a mandolin to slice my onions to approximately 25mm thickness. By no means do you need to run out and get a mandolin (and if you do, please be careful!). The thickness of the onion is really personal preference.
A large red onion can yield more onion than you will have pickling liquid. If you find yourself with more raw onion you can double the pickling liquid or decrease the amount of raw onion that you pickle.
The dried chipotle moritas lend fruitier/smokier notes than they do actual heat. Don’t be afraid to combine the dried chilies with the red chili flakes; these pickle onions are actually very mild heat wise.
For those of you following paleo type diets, you can eliminate the sugar. However, the pickled onions will be much tarter in flavor. You can also switch out the red wine vinegar.
I love the flavor from using red wine vinegar and it really helps to keep the red color of the onions. Additionally, simmering the onions for 30 seconds on low heat helps to set the color.
Pickled Red Onions
Adapted from the recipe in Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez
Yield: approximately 2 cups
Shelf Life: will keep for a few months airtight in the refrigerator
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (whole)
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 bay leaf (dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 chipotle morita chilies (dried)
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- In a medium saucepan combine the vinegar, water, sugar, cumin, chili flake, bay leaf, salt, and chipotle chilies
- Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil
- Once boiling, add the onions and reduce the heat to low
- Simmer gently for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and cool completely
- Transfer the onions and liquid into a glass jar
- Refrigerate until serving