Photo: Patrice Johnson
For a few years I’ve been pickling every vegetable and fruit I could get my hands on. It started with cucumbers then moved on to mustard seeds and rhubarb. Diced, sliced and chopped: I fill jars with apple relish and Giardiniera, tomato jelly and bacon jam, mostarda and dilled chili peppers. I knew I had a problem when there were more pickles than actual food in my refrigerator.
Yet, it took an Italian brasserie to show me the beauty of a Midwestern condiment.
The server presented a plate with three perfect blini topped with cured salmon, horseradish cream, and the prettiest pickled beets I’d ever seen. The beets were glistening jewels diced into tiny ruby beads, and they burst in my mouth like sweet earthy caviar. The lowly pickled beet became an ultimate summer essence.
Quick pickled beets are the ideal crown for rye blini, tart chèvre, and gravlax (in Minnesota, trout is our “local salmon” and it cures quickly in sugar, salt and vodka). These blini make a delicious and pretty first course.
Patrice writes a food column that is published weekly in The Gaylord Hub and a blog that is devoted to food, Scandinavian and Americana pop culture. In her spare time, she volunteers with the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, Cooking Matters (Share Our Strength), Slow Food Minnesota, and for the Annual Immigrant and Minority Farmers Conference.