Sometimes the difference between an average dish and a great one is simply seasoning and balance. Most people learn the importance of salt, but the importance of acid is not so well appreciated. If your dish tastes inexplicably flat, it might just need a quick spritz of lemon or dash of vinegar to lift it. Acid provides contrast and makes your mouth water, enhancing other flavours.
Use this to your advantage: transform everyday burgers with a tangy relish, or add a sharp pickle to your next salad. You’ll eat better, and be that much trendier too: pickling is So Hot Right Now ;). And it’s so easy — you don’t need to make huge batches packed into sterilised jars weeks in advance. You can start with something much quicker: almost any vegetable steeped in simple pickling liquid will take on a beautiful tang in 20 minutes. That’s fast enough to develop while you bring the rest of the dish together in parallel.
As inspiration here is a very simple beetroot version that will not only add acid to your salad but also stunning colour! The pickling liquid is hot to partially cook the beets, and turns vibrantly colourful itself as they pickle. They can be served warm or kept in the pickling liquid in the fridge for a few days (to store for longer you would need to sterilise and vacuum seal a jar full, but that takes the “quick” out of it!).
- 2 small beetroots
- 125ml vinegar
- 100ml water
- 3 teaspoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons salt
- Peel and slice the beets very finely crosswise. A mandolin is best to get thin slices. Place the slices in a small bowl (use separate bowls if using different coloured beets as pictured).
- Add the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the beets, then cover and allow to stand for at least 20 minutes before using.