Having an unhealthy gut microbiome might be at the root of all sorts of health issues, some experts say. Your gut microbiome is a family of bacteria and microorganisms that live in your gut. There are roughly a trillion, so you can see how they’re quite the powerful force. Fermented aka pickled food can boost the healthy microorganisms via their probiotic count (something you must take after taking antibiotics), and so they’re often touted by nutritionists and health experts as a great food to add to your diet.
Right now, with many of us limiting how often we visit the grocery store, hoping to minimize incidents of exposure to COVID-19, we’re looking for types of food that can last a long time. We have our canned, frozen, packaged, air-sealed, and, of course, pickled! Now, when we think of pickles, we typically think of cucumbers in brine. But cucumbers aren’t the only food that are preserved that way. It’s worth it to start exploring the other pickled foods at the store, as well as pickling your own foods as a way of extending their shelf life.
Thanks to their vibrant, salty, and sometimes sweet flavor profiles, pickled foods can sometimes take a bland food to a mouth-watering creation. In some cases, a pickled food is the only thing you need to add to something to bring it to a state of Umami. Here are unexpected uses for pickled foods.
Kefir with fruit
When we think fermented foods, we often just think of things like sticks of vegetables inside jars of brine. But Kefir, a type of yogurt, is fermented and filled with great gut bacteria. It tastes good with many of the same things you’d put over regular yogurt or Greek yogurt, like jam, honey, fruit, or granola.
Kefir in crepes
Kefir can also make for an interesting sweet and savory crepe. Rather than filling yours with whipped crème, add Kefir inside with some jam or fruit compote. That will make it a protein and calcium-heavy food that’s still decadent.
Sauerkraut on sausage
This one isn’t so surprising, but many just think of getting it at a classic German restaurant. But sauerkraut will taste good on most sausage you have at home, including chicken or turkey sausage, or even veggie sausage. It’s even good with a simple hot dog.
Pickled carrots in spring rolls
Make your own spring rolls at home. It’s so easy. You can even order the soy paper wraps online since they’re a dry food. Just put grilled, firm tofu inside, cilantro, cucumber, and pickled carrots. Dip it in soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, fish sauce, or peanut sauce.
Pickled beets with a poached egg
Pickled beets and poached eggs go surprisingly well together. Poached eggs are so mild in flavor that the pickled beets add a delicious brightness to the dish. Consider thinly-sliced pickled beets on toast with poached eggs for a hearty breakfast.
Pickled beets with thousand island
Pickled beets with really any creamy dressing are a great idea. Make a deconstructed salad with pickled beets, radishes, cucumber spheres, pickled carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and pour thousand island or ranch dressing over it.
Pickled green beans in a bean salad
If you’re making a bean salad with, say, white beans, kidney beans, peas, and green beans, use pickled green beans. They’ll add a nice burst of flavor to the otherwise mild dish. You can throw some pickled onions in there, too, and toss the entire thing in some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Pickled carrots on a pulled pork sandwich
If you’re putting your slow cooker to use a lot now – which can be a nice way to make tons of leftovers at once and go easy on the cooking for a while – consider making some pulled pork or pulled chicken. Put this on a bun with pickled carrots, shredded cabbage, and a little thousand island dressing for some tangy, juicy goodness.
Pickled radishes in a burrito
Pickled radishes on almost any type of Mexican food are always a good idea. Street tacos. Burritos. Nachos. Tortas. Enchiladas. They just add a really nice cool crunch to these recipes that are typically warm, cheesy, and gooey.
Pickled onions on a turkey burger
Forget the raw versus grilled onion debate: bust out the pickled onions. These taste especially good on turkey burgers. Their sweet and spicy tang adds just the right kick to white meat patties. You can pair them with regular pickle slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and the works.
Kimchi stir fry
Make stir fry however you please. White or brown rice. Tofu. Grilled meat. Tons of veggies. Rice noodles. Glass noodles. Get your favorite sauces on there like fish sauce or oyster sauce. And then top the entire thing off with Kimchi. It’s just that little special something that brings the whole thing together.
Diced pickles in egg salad
Remember that if you have dill pickles, then you have relish – you just need to be ready to chop them up into tiny pieces. Add diced pickles to an egg salad to really add some zest to the somewhat bland dish. Or, you can make it simple, and just put sliced pickles on toast with sliced hardboiled eggs.
Butter pickles in a grilled cheese
You know about adding avocado to a grilled cheese sandwich. And tomatoes. And maybe hot sauce. But have you ever added butter pickles? They add this wonderful saltiness and crunch. Plus, the pickles might help you digest all that dairy, which can be hard on the tummy.
Pickled jalapenos in mac ‘n cheese
Take your mac ‘n cheese to the next level and add pickled jalapenos. If you really want to go all the way, you can also add bacon or some pulled pork for truly loaded mac ‘n cheese. Mac ‘n cheese is another dish that can be hard to digest so the pickled jalapenos may help move things along.
Pickled peppers and pimento cheese
Pickled peppers – the sweet kind – taste great with pimento cheese. Or with melted queso. Just get out some toast, and smother it with your soft, warm cheese of choice, and top it with these sweet and spicy peppers. You can also add them to a cheese and pasta bake for more flavor.