Hot-Sweet-Tart Onion Rings

Yes, I have a predilection for things pickled. There's logic here. Tart, sweet, salty, hot -- these are primal tastes we humans are wired to respond to. Anthropology 101 aside, they nudge forward other flavors, which is why these simple pickles can be building blocks for an infinite number of starters.

Try them atop pieces of grilled polenta or smoked fish (don't forget kippers in the can!), or paired with aged cheddar or gouda. Or head to the deli case. Get a good piece of liver sausage and black bread, and finish with these rings.

And of course, don't forget the condiment opportunities: burgers, tempeh, brats, salmon, melon (believe it or not), sandwiches, and even peanut butter and bacon take a trip to the moon with these onions.

  • 3 large red onions, thinly sliced (food processor or mandolin will save tears)
  • Juice of 2 large limes
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • Generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 fresh serrano chilies, minced, remove seed to diminish heat if desired
  • 1/3 tightly packed cup fresh mint (optional)

1. Toss the sliced onions with everything but the mint. Taste for salt and tart-sweet balance. Refrigerate a minimum of several hours before using. If using the mint, add it as you use the onions so its flavor stays bright.

 (Photo: MPR News/Jennifer Simonson)

Reprinted from Eating In with Lynne Rossetto Kasper, Issue 2, an e-book published by American Public Media.

Prep time: 
Makes about 3 cups
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