These marinated red onions are one of my favourite condiments and can be used in many (some surprising) ways in the kitchen. Here is how to make them!
Raw onion is not to everyone’s liking, but as soon as you marinate it in some vinegar brine, it magically transforms into a wonderful and tasty food. In particular, the quick-pickled red onions are marvellous – with their beautiful shade of pink and circular curves – and should be kept in the fridge at all times, in my humble opinion.
Quick-pickling or marinating raw red onions is quick and easy, and you can start enjoying them in as little as 15-20 minutes of marinating, or leave them in the fridge for a day or two, and even a week, to get softer and pinker. The marinating process will also make the onions a little easier to digest, which might be useful for those of you who have trouble with raw onions or garlic.
What you need to marinate the onions (full recipe below)
- Red onions – you can pick whatever size you like but make sure to peel them carefully to keep the onion flesh intact. I like to slice the onion into whole circles, mostly for aesthetic reasons, but you can easily dice them up into a kind of onion salsa.
- Vinegar – the best and tastiest types of vinegar to use are apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. White wine vinegar could also work, but please don’t use regular white vinegar as it’s too strong and lacking in flavour.
- Sweetener – to balance the acidity and salt, I like to add a little natural sweetener. You can use honey, maple syrup, rice malt syrup, coconut nectar or sugar. If you want to go totally sugar-free, simply omit it from the recipe.
- Salt, herbs & spices – I use sea salt, pepper and some kind of fresh herb. I like oregano and thyme the best for marinating the onions.
- Mustard – I really like to use Dijon mustard in my recipe but it’s not essential. A lot of pickled onions are made with no mustard, so it’s up to you.
- Water and oil – Many recipes simply use vinegar and water to create the brine but I really like to add olive oil to my onions. For me, it’s almost like making a dressing for the onions rather than a brine, and I often use the marinade to mix into other salad dressings.
My favourite ways to use quick-pickled red onions
- Dress up any salad with some quick-pickled onions, especially good with roasted pumpkin or sweet potato salad.
- Serve as a side condiment with scrambled eggs, omelette and frittata
- Use as a topping on a burger, meatballs, hot dog/sausages
- Use as a flavour enhancer over freshly baked paleo pizza
- Spread over salmon or white fish fillets and bake in the oven
- Serve as a delicious flavour condiment with tacos, lettuce wraps, and nori sushi roll
- Chop up and mix into a guacamole or other dips
- Spread over roasted sweet potato toasts or wedges
- They are fabulous as a topping or a condiment with pulled pork
- Mix through shredded chicken salad
- Add to meat stews and tagines – seriously, amazing!
- Serve with smoked salmon over savoury paleo pancakes
- Pan-fry over medium heat for that caramelised onion topping over steamed green beans, Brussels sprouts, or toss through some pan-fried mushrooms.
- Top hard-boiled eggs with a dollop of mayonnaise and place some pickled onions over the top.
- Spruce up your regular tuna and avocado salad
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey or other sweetener
- 1–2 teaspoons fresh herbs of choice, I used oregano leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Generous pinch of pepper (optional)
- 1 large red onion, sliced into thin circles
- Combine all ingredients, but the onions, in a bowl and whisk together. Place the onion rings in a short mason jar or a small glass container. Pour the marinade over the top and cover tightly with a lid. Turn the jar upside down or shake a few times to allow the brine to spread through the onions. Allow to marinate for 15-20 minutes for a stronger flavour and crunchier texture, and for a day or two and up to a week in the fridge for softer onions and more mellow flavour. I suggest to shake the jar once in a while to distribute the brine around.
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