I had this realization a few weeks back that so much of my cooking is utilitarian. Not joyless necessarily, but more of the "let's get these guys fed" variety. I'm often trying new entrees out for us, and our balance of old favorites vs. new flavors is pretty good, but it's rare that I'm cooking something that's not meant to be put in front of our family in time for a breakfast, lunch or dinner.
My friend Megan, in Nantucket, is an amazing cook, and it seems like every time we chat she's making something that's, wait for it, not dinner. Cinnamon rolls, fancy appetizers, amazing cakes, you name it and she's on it. When we were there at Thanksgiving, a chef friend of theirs brought by some pickled fennel as a holiday gift, and I was all over that mess. Meant to be eaten with shaved parmesan as an appetizer, I really had to work hard not to just stand at the fridge and eat that stuff straight from the jar. I love fennel.
So I had this thought. Okay, why did the fennel have to stay in Nantucket? (Sob.) And even though it's not technically dinner, why can't I make my own? So I did some research, and pickling. Well, ugh. I'm a pretty lazy cook, and all that canning business is so not up my alley. Plus the waiting. Not so good at that either.
And then I ran across a recipe for a quick pickle. With a quick pickle, you skip all that messy processing stuff and you only have to wait an hour to get to nibbling. Victory! I tweaked it to my liking, and that's what I'm going to share with you.
Quick Pickled Blood Orange and Fennel adapted from Serious Eats
2-3 small fennel bulbs
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt
1 Blood Orange, sliced thin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Approximately 1 Cup Blood Orange Vinegar
Wash fennel bulbs and remove the stems. Cut in half and remove the core. Thinly slice the halves on a mandoline.
In a bowl, toss sliced fennel with the salt and let sit for one hour.
The fennel will produce a lot of water, so remove it from the bowl and rinse off the salt in a colander. After it's rinsed, return the fennel to the bowl and toss with orange slices and black pepper. Pack the mixture into a mason jar, using the narrow end of a chopstick or a skewer to pack it down into the jar.
Pour the vinegar over the fennel and orange mixture until covered. Close the jar and refrigerate. The longer it sits (up to 48 hours) before you break into it, the better. Can be refrigerated up to two weeks.
Serve on salads or with a cheese plate. Especially good with parm, or standing at the fridge, straight out of the jar.