After over a year of being cooped up indoors, cooking to alleviate any boredom TV couldn’t fix, I now prefer to spend my evenings sitting on my stoop striking up conversations with every human being that crosses my path. Before COVID, I barely knew my neighbors. Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, everyone on my block is becoming friends, and we never want to go inside again. Any time I spend making dinner is time I could be spending outside chatting and noshing.
To optimize my fridge for nibbling, I make small batches of interesting sauces, spreads, and pickles that have a relatively long shelf life, including this pungent pickled garlic, which takes maybe five minutes to make, doesn’t require turning on the stove, dirties few dishes, and stays good in the fridge for up to four months. A bold condiment such as this turns a hunk of cheese and a loaf of bread into a meal—plus, do you have any idea how impressed your neighbors will be when they find out you’re the kind of person who makes your own condiments? That’s a hallmark of sophistication. You want all your new friends to know straight off the bat that you’re one classy sonofabitch, don’t you?
- 3 bulbs garlic, peeled and sliced (around 1/2 cup; don’t worry about an exact measurement)
- 1 medium lemon
- White wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly cracked pepper
- 1/2 tsp. red chili flakes (Use more, less, or none, depending on your tolerance for spicy foods)
- 2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves, or 3/4 tsp. dried (or any herb you like)
Use a vegetable peeler to remove long strips of zest from the lemon, then cut the zest lengthwise into thin matchsticks. Layer into an 8-ounce jar with the garlic, chili flakes, and oregano leaves.
Juice the lemon into a microwave-safe measuring cup, then add enough white wine vinegar until the liquid measures 1/3 cup. Add the water, salt, and pepper, and microwave for 60-90 seconds until simmering. Slowly pour into the jar until the liquid covers the garlic by at least half an inch; discard any excess brine. Refrigerate for at least three days, then enjoy within four months.
Note: Occasionally, mixing garlic with an acidic liquid will turn it blue, and that’s totally okay! It’s a chemical reaction that can occur when garlic’s sulfur compounds react with amino acids. It will not affect the flavor and is entirely safe to eat. As the pickles age, the color will fade away.