a piquant taco topping.

pi·quant   [pee-kuhnt, -kahnt, pee-kahnt]
1. agreeably pungent or sharp in taste or flavor; pleasantly biting or tart: a piquant aspic.
2. agreeably stimulating, interesting, or attractive: a piquant glance.
3. of an interestingly provocative or lively character: a piquant wit.
4. Archaic . sharp or stinging, especially to the feelings.

Ever since I heard the word “piquant,” I knew I wanted to cook something that I could describe as “piquant” to my hypothetical guests. Like “flautist,” “beelzebub,” and “Zimbabwe,” it is a fun word to say.

Last weekend, I had an end-of-the-year taco party at my house that was inspired, in part, by a recent article in Bon Appétit. The article listed various accoutrements you should have on hand for your guests when serving tacos. The standards were included (diced white onions, limes, cilantro), but there was a beautiful dish of pale pink something that caught my eye.

Pickled red onions. I could do this, I thought. I could pickle something. And finally, at last, I could make something that provokes everyone (or only me) to use the word “piquant.”

This process takes a total of 10 minutes of active work time and a few hours of waiting. It becomes exponentially easier if you have a mandolin. We have this one, and while it’s not pretty, it does the job well. You can also use whatever pickling spices you have on hand. I’ve listed several ideas, but you can pick and choose. The main thing is to get the ratio of salt/ sugar/ vinegar/ and water right.

What taco toppings do you enjoy? Anything unusual? lv, molly

Quick Pickled Onions

1/2 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced
pickling spices (e.g., bay leave, 3-4 peppercorns, star anise, all spice berries, or any combination of them)

Whisk the first three ingredients, and add 1 cup of water in a small bowl, until sugar and salt dissolve. Place onions in a Mason jar (or similar), and pour vinegar mixture over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Refrigerate after (can be made 2 weeks ahead if kept in the fridge). Drain onions before serving.