Since before I could cook a damn thing, I was passionately phobic of vinegar. I couldn’t be in the same room as an aggressively dressed salad and my husband’s habit of using vinegar to clean had me, absolutely literally, fleeing my own house.
I do realize how ridiculous that sounds. But it was an aversion that took me years to get over. I’m not quite sure when my brain decided to associate any kind of vinegar whatsoever with a really unpleasant, visceral physical reaction, but I suspect it’s got something to do with the fact that the only vinegar I was ever around as a child was of the nostril-stripping malt variety.
Whereas red or white wine vinegars are made from — you guessed it — red and white wine, malt vinegar is made from malt, which is germinated and dried barley. (Making it a grain based vinegar). Growing up, it was always on the table for adding to pretty much anything that was served with fries, or as they’re called back in the UK, chips. (Yes, that confused the heck out of me when I moved to the US!). And while some kindly people have described it as having a “more complex flavor” than standard white vinegar, to child-me’s nose, it outright stank and tasted worse.
So, somewhat unfairly, as I grew up and explored food and taught myself to cook, I assiduously avoided any and all varieties of vinegar. A side note: do you have any idea of how many dry, bland salads I ate during those years? Because if you’re phobic about avoiding vinegar of all kinds, salad dressings are the stuff of nightmares. Paired with the fact that I refused to eat mayo for over 30 years, you can imagine that didn’t help, either!
Now, since those days, I have come to a place of peace when it comes to vinegars of almost all kinds and the dishes that they’re added to. It took me a little longer to bring any of them into my own kitchen, though, and if you’ve followed along here with me over the years, you might have noticed that there is probably not a recipe on the site that uses vinegar. Out of habit, I usually stick to citrus based dishes, marinades and dressings. When you’ve gone so long avoiding something, it becomes second nature!
Now, these Lime Pickled Red Onions aren’t a “true” pickle at all. They’re not fermented and since they don’t use vinegar, they’re not even reminiscent of the kind of quick pickles you’ll often see made with thinly sliced vegetables and vinegar brines. Funnily enough, though, I didn’t come up with these tangy, zingy, garnish-all-the-things onions because I was avoiding vinegar, though.
I just wanted something colorful to top my Chicken Salsa Verde Tacos with! Since I can’t tolerate nightshades, that’s a little tougher to manage. My Pomegranate Pico De Gallo would have worked, but at this time of year, pomegranates aren’t an option.
Usually, I’m an unabashed raw onion eater. I know, I know. I’ll often top taco salads or similar with plenty of raw red onion, but I wanted something that was a little fresher. (And prettier, if I’m being honest.) So I decided to pop some thinly sliced red onions into a fresh lime juice bath with a little salt to mellow them out. The result is a light, refreshing, not-so-potent as raw onion garnish that is pretty much my new favorite topping for salads, tacos and boring proteins. Yup, boring proteins happen even in my house. They’re great on the side of anything grilled or BBQ’d, too. Perfect for all your summer cookouts!
You can make these ahead of time, since they’ll keep in the fridge for up to a week. In a pinch, I won’t even pop them in the fridge at all: I’ll get the onions marinating before I start making the rest of dinner, then just pile ’em on top whenever dinner’s done. These Lime Pickled Red Onions are that simple. You’ll notice that the longer the onions hang out in their lime bath, the more vibrantly pink they’ll become. They’ll end up a gorgeous, show stopping pink that adds a bit of pizazz to the presentation of anything you serve them with!
- TOSS: Cut the onion through the root, discarding the top and skin. Slice each onion half into thin half moons, about 1/16" - ⅛" thick. No thicker! Add the sliced onions to a non reactive bowl, along with the lime juice and a sprinkle of fine sea salt. Toss until the onions are evenly covered in the lime and salt.
- PICKLE: Let the onions sit at room temperature until they begin to soften a little, about 30 minutes or so, stirring them every 5 - 10 minutes or so. Add the dried oregano, if using. Toss the onions again to coat, then transfer them to a glass jar (or two). Pour over the liquid from the bowl, too. Gently press the onions down with the back of a spoon or fork so that they're immersed in the lime juice. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or so before using - they're even better once they've hung out in the fridge for a few hours.
- STORE: Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This recipe was included in the Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable.
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