I love a challenge. Really, anything competitive such as a casual bet, a workout challenge, or trying to replicate a dish (hint hint), really gets my gears going. A few months back I had a work dinner at a local Italian restaurant, Il Cappriccio in Whippany, NJ. While the dinner was great, what really stood out was the simple bowl of pickled vegetables that they put out as a little amuse bouche with their bread baskets. It was tangy, crispy, sweet and sour. Our table polished off the bowl in about 2 minutes flat. When we politely asked for seconds, I squeaked out a question to the waiter. “What’s the recipe?” While he wouldn’t give me a steadfast reply; he did tell me the secret was balsamic and lemon juice. Ok, so they wouldn’t tell me how to make it…challenge accepted!
I went home and did some research on pickling. I’ve never actually done any myself so I wanted to know the fundamentals. I found out the basic recipes always included water, vinegar, salt and sugar (It’s that simple folks!). Once I learned the essential ingredients I took on the mission of replicating their dish. My first rounds of pickling were good, just not perfect. After a few variations I was able to come up with an end product that I was not only was proud of, I was slightly addicted to. It isn’t quite Il Cappriccio’s version (although it bears a similarity) but, I think in its own right it’s just a tasty!
I took a large jar of it up to our Fourth of July celebrations in New Hampshire. It was all gone in just a few minutes. I was even forced to provide the recipe out to a few fans before I could get it up on the website! These vegetables are crunchy, sweet and just a little spicy; a delicious and dangerous combination.
Now it’s your turn for a challenge!
Take a shot at making a batch of these balsamic pickled vegetables with Behind the Plates recipe OR make a variation with your own creative pickling idea!
…all for the love of the dish
- 3 & 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup balsamic
- 4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 can olives
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- Pour your water, balsamic and lemon juice into a saucepan on your stovetop. Turn to medium/high heat to start to bring to a boil. Slowly stir in your sugar until dissolved. Add salt and crush red pepper. As soon as it comes to a small rolling boil, turn off and remove from heat.
- Let the balsamic liquid completely cool.
- Meanwhile, Chop your onions, peppers, and celery. Add these along with your olives into one large airtight jar (I used one that was 2 liters) but you can definitely use 4 or 5 small mason jars.
- Pack them until there is just about a ½ inch left at the top of the jar(s).
- Once the liquid has completely cool pour it over the vegetables.
- Close the lids and store in the fridge for at least one week before eating.
to store for up to about 3 weeks before having to discard.