One of my new-found passions is pickling — specifically quick, easy, overnight (or 3-day-long at the most), refrigerator, no-canning-involved kind of pickling. Ease of preparation is, of course, a big factor. But the key thing for me lies in the fact that quick pickling produces pickled fruits and vegetables that retain a great deal of their freshness, color, and texture while characteristically tasting of delicious pickling liquid and spices.
See how these asparagus spears are roughly the length of a hot dog bun? See the possibilities? Can you visualize them getting cozy with a grilled hot dog in natural casing or a charred spicy merguez, perhaps? And that’s just one of the many, many ways to use pickled asparagus.
I wash and dry 1 1/2 pounds of fresh asparagus, trim off the tough, fibrous parts, and arrange them vertically in a large glass jar. In a pot, I mix together 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of salt, 6 large cloves of garlic, sliced thinly lengthwise, 2 tablespoons of yellow mustard seeds, and 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds, and bring the mixture to a boil. The hot liquid is poured over the fresh asparagus in the jar.
The entire jar is then left to cool to room temperature, then refrigerated, with the lid on, for 48 hours. (Thicker asparagus would take longer, possibly up to 3 days.) The result is delicious pickled asparagus that’s still quite vibrant green, crunchy, and goes with, oh, everything.