“The stall” buys you time when you remember at 5 p.m. that you have invited a friend over for dinner at 6:30. Sure you can put out chips and salsa for your friend to nibble on while you finish the main course. But, having a trick like quick pickling up your sleeve is less likely to make your guest feel forgotten.
Quick pickling is simply a marinating technique for vegetables. Carrots are a great vegetable to use because their flavor and color improve with a small amount of cooking. While local carrots are becoming harder to find in the market right now, they are at least seasonal so they are going to be a more nutritious and economical option for this time of year. Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and daikon radish also tend to keep well in the refrigerator crisper, so you can always have some on hand when you are in a pinch.
The technique is simple enough: gently steam or blanch the vegetable you are going to use until they are tender crisp. Drain them but do not rinse in cold water as the heat will help them better and more quickly absorb the dressing/pickling ingredients. Dress the vegetables and allow them to cool to room temperature. Stir them periodically to distribute the flavors. Don’t like tarragon? Feel free to substitute dried dill. If you are making this dish when the snow isn’t blanketing the ground, use chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.
You also can use this technique on peeled, thinly sliced baby beets. Take it a step further by sprinkling on some goat cheese and chopped and you can stall your guest with a winter salad.
Quick Pickled Carrots
- 4, 6-inch carrots, peeled
- 2 pinches of salt, or to taste
- 1 pinch cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 t dried tarragon
- 2 t olive oil
- ¼ c white wine vinegar
Cut carrots into 3-inch lengths, approximately ¼-inch by ¼-inch, or whatever size works for you. Just remember that the larger you make them, the longer it will take them to absorb the dressing. Whatever size you choose, be sure to keep the pieces uniform so that they all cook at the same rate.
Bring a ½ inch of water to a boil in a pan with a vegetable steamer, or use a skillet if you don’t have a steamer. Steam or boil the vegetables until tender crisp. This will take only a couple of minutes for carrot sticks.
Drain the vegetables. Place them in a shallow glass or ceramic dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and tarragon. Drizzle with olive oil. Pour vinegar over top. Toss vegetables in dressing. Allow to cool to room temperature, turning every 15 to 20 minutes.