Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, and Jalapenos (Escabeche)

Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, and Jalapenos (Escabeche) recipe

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Cool and Rest Time: 25 hrs
Total: 25 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
42 Calories
0g Fat
9g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 42
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 961mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 29mg 143%
Calcium 27mg 2%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 145mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe comes from "Tacolicious," the cookbook from the eponymous San Francisco chain of full-service Mexican restaurants. This recipe is a variation on a traditional Mexican pickle that is served alongside the restaurant's tacos. Instead of discarding the brine after pickling, the restaurant serves it as a chaser, or pickleback, with shots of tequila.

The spicy, salty brine makes for a brusque palate cleanser between shots. Because this recipe calls for rice wine vinegar, which is less than 5 percent acidity, it cannot be canned via water bath canning ​but will keep, refrigerated. 

When it comes to setting the table in Mexico, this mix of spicy pickled vegetables, also known as escabeche, is almost as expected as salsa. 

At Tacolicious, the escabeche includes cauliflower, but most typically you will see jalapenos, carrots, and onions. Unless you have the time and the desire, do not worry about removing the seeds from the chiles. Try experimenting with a chunkier version, too, leaving the jalapenos whole and cutting the carrots into large pieces.

The origin of the word "escabeche" is Persian; it was brought to Spain by the Arabs likely during the Moorish conquest of Spain in the Middle Ages. The word derives from al-sikbaj, the name of a popular meat dish cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, usually vinegar, honey, or date molasses. The dish originated in Mediterranean countries like Turkey and Lebanon but has spread all over the world in one form or another usually representing a type of food that is vinegared or pickled. It is known as escabecio in Italy, savoro in Greece, and scabetche in North Africa.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup small cauliflower florets

  • 1 cup sliced carrots (1/8-inch-thick coins)

  • 1/2 cup sliced red onion (1/2-inch-thick slices)

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced jalapeno chiles (1/4-inch-thick rounds)

  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 5 whole cloves

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 large cloves garlic, lightly crushed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather ingredients.

    Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, and Jalapenos (Escabeche) ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Put the cauliflower, carrots, onion, and chiles in a wide-mouthed quart canning jar or a heatproof glass or ceramic bowl.

    cauliflower, carrots, onion, and chiles in a wide-mouthed quart jar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, cloves, oregano, bay leaf, and garlic in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

    vinegar, water, sugar, salt, cloves, oregano, bay leaf, and garlic in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Remove from the heat. Place the jar or bowl in your sink to catch any overflow and carefully pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.

    pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Let sit for about 1 hour, or until completely cooled.

    vegetables and pickling liquid in a jar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. If you have used a jar, screw on or clamp the lid. If you have used a bowl, transfer the vegetables and liquid to a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

    Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, and Jalapenos (Escabeche) in a jar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours before serving.

    Pickled Cauliflower, Carrots, and Jalapenos (Escabeche) in a jar

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Variations

  • A rad dish: Some escabeche purists claim this popular dish cannot go without onions, however, if you are going for an escabeche that is entirely crunchy, ditch the onion and add radish. If you do, expect your escabeche to take on a more reddish hue than the red onions would have imparted.
  • Quick saute: Some variations on this dish call for sauteing the veggies prior to submerging in the vinegar mixture. This can bring out the veggie flavor more, however, it will guarantee a soggy escabeche. If texture matters more, skip this variation.


Tips

  • Escabeche is great on its own as a snack, but also enjoy it along with your favorite Mexican dishes.
  • The vegetables will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.