Giardiniera (pronounced JAR – DIH – NAIR – AH) in an Italian relish of pickled vegetables. It has long been one of my favorite pickle mixes sold in the grocery store. When I met my husband, I introduced him to the wonders of giardiniera and he now loves it as well. The one thing we don’t like about it, however, is the hefty price it carries in the grocery store. There is no need to pay such high prices when it is so easy to make with ingredients you probably already have on hand!
Giardiniera is typically served as a side dish or on sandwiches, like muffuletta, as a condiment. We usually eat it as part of antipasti or charcuterie platter and it can made either sweet or spicy. We like both variations though my husband prefers the spicy mix while I prefer the sweeter mild version. Since the only real difference between the two is the addition of the hot peppers, it is quite simple to make a few jars of each at the same time.
Traditionally, giardiniera includes pearl onions, cauliflower, sweet red peppers, carrots and celery but can include anything you like. We make our mix with our favorite vegetables and encourage you to do the same. Cauliflower is one of our favorite ingredients so when we find it on sale we do up a few jars and store them. You should add whichever vegetables you like. Experiment with what you like and see what blend works best for your family.
- 2½ cups distilled white vinegar
- 3 cups water
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- 1 head cauliflower trimmed and broken into florets (about 6 cups)
- 4 carrots, cut diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
- 1 cup drained bottled whole peperoncini
- 1 cup large brined greens olives
- 2 cups pearl onions
- 1 head garlic, peeled and separated into whole cloves
- Prepare pickling liquid: Bring pickling-liquid ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high head, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Set aside and cool about 30 minutes.
- Cook vegetables: Bring about 4 quarts unsalted water to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower to pot and boil until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, then transfer quickly to an ice bath to stop cooking. Cook remaining vegetables the same way, allowing 2 minutes for the pearl onions and 4 minutes for the carrots. After all the vegetables have been blanched and shocked in the water bath, drain them in a colander to remove excess water.
- To a large covered jar with a tight fitting lid, add the cooled pickling liquid and cooked vegetables, peperoncini, garlic and olives. Cover and refrigerate. Serve as soon as two days after pickling to allow the flavors to develop.