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Every Tuesday, Italian local Emiko Davies is taking us on a grand tour of Italy, showing us how to make classic, fiercely regional dishes at home.
Today: Pickle your favorite summer vegetables to keep them around for longer.
Giardiniera is a really simple, age-old way to preserve homegrown vegetables from an overabundant garden (the word comes from the word giardino, which means garden) or to simply take advantage of cheap, in-season produce. These colorful pickled vegetables make a great addition to an antipasto platter of cheeses and salami, but can also be added to dishes like rice salad.
You can vary the vegetables based on what you have on hand, but seek a variety: The mixture of colors and flavors is one of the best parts of this preparation. Here, you'll see I've used cauliflower, peppers, squash, celery, carrots, and zucchini, but other typical inclusions are shallots, cucumbers, or green beans. You could flavor the marinade with juniper berries, cloves, peppercorns, or bay leaves—to name a few favorites.
Being that giardiniera or sottaceti (another name for it, meaning "under vinegar") are found in regions all over Italy, there are a number of different ways to make these pickles, all with varying proportions of vinegar and water and different marinating times and methods. Some recipes require a marinating period of a month or so before you can eat the vegetables. This one here is great because, if you're impatient like me, the pickles are ready to be eaten right away. You could also conserve the vegetables by storing the mixture in oil rather than vinegar, which will keep the flavor nicely balanced.
Makes 4 to 6 jars of pickles
2 1/2 pounds (1 kilogram) mixed vegetables, such as red and green peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and zucchini
4 cups (1 liter) white wine vinegar
2 cups (500 milliliters) water
3 bay leaves
2 juniper berries
3 whole cloves
3 tablespoons (30 grams) salt
2 tablespoons (30 grams) sugar
Olive oil, for topping jars
Photos by Emiko Davies