Updated

Don't let it distract you from what follows, but I've slightly improved the base recipe since this was first written. (Spoiler: Add some kale.)

Quickle Pickle

Simple: Cabbage, onion, cucumber, salt, vinegar. That's it. High flavor and essentially no fat or calories.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or to taste
  • additional salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Wash and core the cabbage, then slice it as thinly as you can.
  2. In a colander over a bowl or sink, mix the 2T of salt into the cabbage
  3. Peel and slice the onion as thinly as you can. A mandolin works well (but not with the cabbage). Mix the onion into the salted cabbage.
  4. Peel (or don't) the cucumbers. Cut them lengthwise, then gently scrape out the seeds and pith. Cut as thinly as you can. Mix in with the salted cabbage and onions.
  5. Place a small plate or something similar on top of the cabbage mixture and weigh it down. (A gallon jug of water or a big can works nicely.) Allow to sit for 45 minutes to an hour.
  6. Remove the plate and rinse the cabbage mix under running water.
  7. Transfer to a plastic zipper bag or a large mixing bowl.
  8. Add red wine vinegar and salt to taste.
  9. Serve or refrigerate for up to a few days.

Note

The original name for this recipe was "Quick Pickled Cabbage", but one of my tongue-tied kids accidentally renamed it to something that doesn't scare off brassicaphobics quite as quickly. While recipes cannot be copyrighted, I'm happy to give full credit to Mark Bittman for this one. >How to Cook Everything is worth your attention.

Variations

Imaginary Tenders Menu

  • 1 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh kale, thick stems removed and leaves thinly sliced (chiffonade)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound red radishes, julienned
  • 2T salt for pickling

After it's pickled and rinsed, add:

  • red wine vinegar to taste
  • salt to taste

German Red Quickle

  • 1 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 tart apples, cored and julienned
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T. whole allspice, crushed or ground
  • 1 T. juniper berries (if you can find them), chopped fine or ground
  • 1 T. caraway seed (optional)
  • 2T salt for pickling

After it's pickled and rinsed, add:

  • 1/2 c. apple butter
  • apple cider vinegar to taste
  • 1/4 c. red wine (optional)
  • 1 T. currant jelly (optional, and maybe best dissolved in the other liquids first)
  • sugar to taste
  • salt to taste

Italian Quickle

  • 1 medium green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced or julienned
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin or minced
  • 1 medium or a few small sweet peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. loosely packed fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2T salt for pickling

After it's pickled and rinsed, add:

  • red wine or balsamic vinegar to taste
  • salt to taste

You can also add some good quality extra virgin olive oil if you like, but the result will be more like a dressed salad. You'll lose that fun squeakiness that Quickle's crunch usually has.

Asian Quickle

  • 1 large stalk of Bok Choy, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium daikon radish, thinly sliced or julienned
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin or minced
  • 2 or 3 inches of ginger root, julienned
  • 1 to 2 c. of mung bean sprouts
  • 2T salt for pickling

After it's pickled and rinsed, add:

  • soy sauce to taste
  • rice wine vinegar to taste
  • toasted sesame oil and/or seeds to taste

Hot Quickle

This is a much smaller batch than the others because if you make it hot enough, most mere mortals will treat it as a condiment—try it instead of pico de gallo sometime—rather than a side dish. You could use fewer hot peppers, of course, but where's the fun in that? For a light, easy, and highly flavorful lunch dish, serve Hot Quickle wrapped in a corn tortilla with avocado, fresh cilantro, and fresh lime.

Oh, and wear gloves when you're cutting the hot peppers or you'll hate yourself later.

  • 1/4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, sliced paper thin or minced
  • 2 or more fresh jalapeño, serrano, habanero—careful!—and/or poblano peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1T salt for pickling

After it's pickled and rinsed, add:

  • white vinegar and/or fresh lime juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other Notes

I love my mandolin, but I've learned that not everything should be paper thin. About 1/8-inch (3mm) slices of onion mix better with the raw cabbage than thinner ones. The same goes for zucchini and the like. Slices of carrot or radish are firmer and less watery, though, and the thinner they are, the better.

Incidentally, it turns out that it is possible to oversalt the pickle-in-progress, but the worst of that is that it's wasteful. If your quickle is too salty after rinsing but before you've added the vinegar, etc., you can soak it in a bowl of fresh water for a little while.

With all the combinations I've tried, the original—just cabbage, cukes, and onion—is still close to my family's favorite. I've added some kale to my master recipe, though: The dark green color is striking against the paler cabbage, and the deeper slightly more bitter flavor adds a nice couterpoint to its slight sweetness. I also usually include some carrots julienned or sliced very, very thinly. The color just pops and the flavor goes well with all the rest of it.

I haven't been completely pleased with some of my experiments: I found the oregano in the Italian Quickle to be a little distracting, for example, and the fresh grated ginger in the Asian Quickle brought a little more bitterness than I cared for. There's a lot to be said for personal taste, though, and your mileage may vary. Mix and match with things you like. Good stuff!

This content first appeared in different form and different times on Analytical Life.