We’ve been living in Boston for almost 3 years now and while I absolutely love the abundance of fresh seafood here, there are certain foods from Chicago I can’t help but miss. Giardiniera is definitely one of them! Mention this word to a New Englander and they give you a look like “what did you just say?!”
For those of you who aren’t familiar, giardiniera is a mixture of pickled vegetables, usually in vinegar and/or oil with some spices. In Chicago it’s traditionally served on Italian beef sandwiches, but you can add it to pretty much anything! I love adding it to tuna salad, omelets, or pizza. My mom makes a killer giardiniera hummus (which I plan to post soon!).
You can feel free to use any combination of vegetables you like, but you want to select things that will maintain somewhat of a crunch. I like to use cauliflower, red bell pepper, carrots, celery and a little bit of jalapeno for some heat.
There are two main steps to making giardiniera: the brine and the marinade. First, the vegetables are brined in salt and water. This draws the moisture out of the vegetables which helps them stay somewhat crunchy. In the second step the brined vegetables are marinated in a mixture of oil and vinegar. You can add any spices you enjoy here (like garlic, red pepper flakes, etc.) but I like to keep it simple with just a little bit of oregano.
The longer you let the giardiniera sit, the more the flavors will come together. Store it in an air-tight jar and it should keep for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.
- ¼ cup salt
- 1 cup cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery (about ½ cup), sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ¾ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- In a large bowl, mix salt with 2 cups of water. Add the cauliflower, carrots, celery, red bell pepper and jalapenos. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours).
- Drain and rinse the vegetables. In a clean bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and oregano. Stir in the vegetables.
- Divide mixture into air-tight jars or containers. Make sure there is enough oil/vinegar to cover the vegetables.
- Refrigerate for 2-3 days before using to let the flavors come together. You can store the giardiniera in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.