pickled vegetable sandwich slaw

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Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw with Mustard Seeds
A new riff on my favorite pickled cole slaw, inspired by these pretties

I used a mixture of radishes, red, orange and yellow bell peppers, carrots, fresh sugar snaps and kirby cucumbers, but you can use any firm, crunchy vegetable you think would pickle well here. The only thing I don’t think I’d use again were the red radishes, because their color leaked all over, pink-pickling the other vegetables, though of course they all tasted just fine. You might note I am missing the most important ingredient in this so-called slaw, the cabbage. Guys, I made this in the chaotic two days before our two-week vacation and completely forgot. Turns out, it’s fantastic with or without cabbage, though feel free to add some green/white cabbage to your 4 cups of vegetables.

These are refrigerator pickles; no canning/vacuum seals/sterilized jars needed. You simply keep them in the fridge, where they will last for up to a month.

[Update 7/1/13: A few people were finding 3 tablespoons salt too salty. I looked over my other pickling formulas and think this could stand to be a little less salty and have updated the amount. Because the salt and sugar work together, the sugar is reduced from 6 tablespoons too. So sorry for any pickling unhappiness.]

Pickling mixture
1 cup distilled white vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 cup cold water

Slaw mixture
4 to 5 cups mixed slivered or julienned* firm, raw vegetables (see above for vegetable suggestions, below for slicing tips)
Optional: Few slivers of jalapeno

Heat vinegar, sugar, salt and mustard seeds to a simmer in a small, non-reactive pot over moderate heat, stirring only until sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in water, which should bring the mixture’s temperature down significantly. Let cool to lukewarm.

Divide vegetables between jars. (I used two 3/4 liter jars.) Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables and refrigerate until needed. You’ll find the vegetables to be lightly pickled within an hour, and deliciously pickled within a day. They will get slightly more pickled as they sit, but the change shouldn’t be too dramatic from the 24 hour level.

Eat with/on sandwiches, aside grilled food and pack it along for picnics — it goes with almost anything. Then make more, because this stuff is habit-forming.

Do ahead: Mine have kept in the fridge for a month without any change in taste or appearance. Updated to add (thanks, Erika!) that you’ll want to make sure that your vegetables are submerged in the brine for them to keep this long.

* I used a mix of a sharp knife, a simple mandoline (that includes julienne blades) and a julienne peeler (the Kuhn one), which I was embarrassed to admit I bought last year until I realized how much easier it makes getting juliennes from long, thin vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, parsnips and zucchini). Don’t fret if you don’t have a fancy peeler or mandoline; you can cut thin strips with your knife, then slice them into skinny matchsticks quite easily.

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