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. —Emiko
- Makes 4 to 6 jars
2 1/2 pounds
vegetables, cut into strips or sliced, such as red and green peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, baby red onions, and zucchini
(1 liter) white wine vinegar
(500 milliliters) water
Olive oil, for topping jars
- Clean and prepare the vegetables. The cauliflower should be cut into pieces no larger than a walnut. The celery, zucchini, and peppers can be cut into strips, and the carrots can be cut into thin rounds. Baby onions can be left whole if small or cut in half if large. Green beans, if using, can be left long and whole or cut in half.
- In a large pot, add the vinegar and water. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves, salt, and sugar, and bring to a simmer.
- Cook each type of vegetable separately in the vinegar mixture, until they are bright and beginning to get tender but still crunchy. Remove and set aside until all the vegetables are cooked. The vegetables are ready to eat right away but if you want to conserve them, follow the next step.
- Distribute the vegetables evenly in sterilized jars, cover with olive oil and put lids on tightly. To seal the jars, place the filled jars in a stock pot of simmering water (make sure the jars are covered by an inch or two of water—you can add more water if necessary). Bring to a boil and after a minute, take off the heat. Carefully remove the jars with a jar lifter (or tongs) and place on a heat-proof surface lined with a tea towel to let cool completely. They're ready to enjoy now. Or, you can store in a cool, dark place for 6 months. Once opened, store in refrigerator and eat within 5 days.