Growing up in an Italian-American family, I thought everyone’s fridge had a big gallon jar of spicy pickled vegetables – what else do you pull out when you’re hungry but dinner isn’t ready yet? It wasn’t until I was older that I realized most of my friends had no idea what I was talking about. It’s about time I shared giardiniera with you!
Giardiniera is simply a big salad of fresh veggies, lightly seasoned and pickled, that goes with everything. On its own as antipasto, always on sandwiches, definitely in pasta salads. This batch was made for an absolutely killer muffuletta salad – that recipe will be up on the blog tomorrow, so hurry up and make this today so it’s ready!
There are as many ways to make giardiniera as there are Italian grandmothers. Our recipe is pretty simple and endlessly customizable: equal parts apple cider vinegar, canola oil, and water to cover whatever chopped veggies you want. Beautiful lilac cauliflower was on sale for the same price as plain ol’ white, which gave this batch a lovely bright color.
This is our tried-and-true vegetable list, but feel free to experiment! Crisp, structured vegetables work best. Green beans hold up really nicely, while broccoli wilts.
Giardiniera is best stored in a large, airtight glass jar. This recipe makes enough to completely fill a half gallon container – I recommend a big latching jar like this one to keep it safely sealed in the fridge for a long time.
I often use wide-mouth mason jars as well if that’s what I have available. In that case, add the water before transferring to make sure it’s evenly distributed, then ladle into the jars.
- 8 oz. hot peppers thinly sliced (see notes)
- 8 oz. sweet peppers thinly sliced (see notes)
- 1 1/2 cups cauliflower roughly chopped
- 2 large carrots peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 large stalks celery sliced
- 1 large onion thickly sliced, slices quartered
- 8 cloves garlic lightly crushed
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups canola oil
- 2 T. italian seasoning
- 2 cups water
Toss all the vegetables together until evenly mixed.
Fold in apple cider vinegar, canola oil, and italian seasoning.
Transfer to glass storage jar and add water to just barely cover the veggies. Carefully shake to distribute.
Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before using to let the flavors soak together. Store in the fridge for up to a month.
"Hot peppers" and "sweet peppers" are intentionally vague - the idea is to use whatever you have available locally. You can also control the heat level, even using all sweet peppers if you don't like it spicy.
For my hot peppers, I used 2 fresno, 2 santa fe, 2 small habanero, and the rest jalapeno to reach 1/2 pound. This makes for a very spicy mix - remember that the oil will soak up and intensify the heat! For my sweet peppers, I used colorful 'mighty mini' peppers - no heat and a nice crunch.
If you want to be able to distinguish which peppers are hot and sweet in the final mix, I recommend using only jalapenos and mighty minis so you know all the green slices are spicy!
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