The Gut-Healing Trick That'll Amp Up Your Dinner In A Snap

Contributing Food Editor By Liz Moody
Contributing Food Editor
Liz Moody is a food editor, recipe developer and green smoothie enthusiast. She received her creative writing and psychology degree from The University of California, Berkeley. Moody is the author of two cookbooks: Healthier Together and Glow Pops and the host of the Healthier Together podcast.
The Gut-Healing Trick That'll Amp Up Your Dinner In A Snap

Image by Martí Sans / Stocksy

If you've ever wondered why the tacos you get at a restaurant have a zest and pop to them that the ones you make at home lack, the answer is quick pickling. Chef and best-selling author Samin Nosrat has recently popularized the notion that great food contains salt, fat, and acid, an easy mantra that allows home cooks to check off the building blocks necessary for great favor. Quick pickling is a fast way to add acid to any dish and an oft-employed chef's secret to making a melange of flavors feel cohesive and intentional.

It's also super good for your gut, if done in a particular way. Most chefs quick pickle by tossing vegetables in a boiled mix of vinegar, water, and spices, but if you skip the boiling step and use apple cider vinegar, you get all of the benefits of the wellness world's favorite wunderdrink in a delicious, flavor-packed bite. Apple cider vinegar has been shown in studies to aid in digestion and help you absorb more nutrients from whatever food you've paired it with, making it an ideal ingredient to eat with vitamin- and mineral-rich produce.

Pickling also doesn't need to be limited to, well, pickles (or cucumbers, that is). You can quick pickle almost any hearty vegetable that's OK to eat raw. I love using carrots, radishes, asparagus, green beans, sliced ginger, red onion—the sky is the limit. The vegetables preserve their original flavor when quick-pickled, but that flavor is made more acidic, fresh, and bright, so think about what works with the dish you're trying to create.

While you can let the veggies sit in the pickle mixture overnight, I like to make it truly quick and simply slice whatever I'm using until it's as thin as possible, exposing more surface area to the pickle mixture. I put my vegetables in a bowl and toss them with a generous amount of apple cider vinegar until they're well-coated. I'll mix in a bit of honey or maple syrup—the sweetness helps offset the acidity of the vinegar and bring out the natural sugars of the produce—and let everything sit until dinner is ready to serve.

You can also store your quick pickles in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to a week. Used like this, they'll become your go-to to elevate any weeknight dinner. Toss a tangle of pickled red onions on top of a quiche. Mix some pickled shaved asparagus in with some greens, fresh berries, and cracked black peppercorns for a delicious summer salad. Add shredded pickled ginger to a pan-fried rice dish and transform the taste from banal to completely crave-worthy, with little additional effort required.

It's also a great way to extend the life of that CSA or farmers market haul that you didn't quite have time to get around to. Less food waste, gut-healing benefits, and better-tasting food with minimal effort? Sign us up.

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