The Giardiniera is made of pickled vegetables; the pickling makes it possible to preserve vegetables in season when they are abundant and conserve them for some time.
It is a somewhat complicated proceeding because it requires the preparation of the pickling liquid and then the cooking of all vegetables in separate boiling water and when cooked transferring it into a large bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking and finally, after draining and patting dry, mixing the vegetables with the pickling liquid.
The pickling liquid made with a vinegar mixture, has to be well acidulated in order to preserve the vegetables and because it tastes very vinegary, the Giardiniera was never one of my preferred side dish.
- The Pickling Liquid
- 12 cups water
- 4 cups distilled white vinegar
- Tablespoon of salt
- Bay leaves
- 1 cauliflower (over 2 lb), head separated into bite-sized florets and washed
- Celery ribs, washed well and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 5 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices to make 3 cups
- 8 oz pearl onions peeled (or use an 8 oz jar of large cocktail onions)
- 1 box frozen artichokes heart, defrosted and cut in half or into quarters
You can add any other vegetable, like mushrooms, eggplants, etc
Also secure and prepare
- 4 oz jar of Tuscan sweet peperoncini, drained of their brine (imported from Italy)
- 8 oz Sicilian style green olives in brine, pitted
- 12 oz oil cured black olives, pitted
- 1½ cup canola oil
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- A few pinches of hot red pepper flakes
- 4 bay leaves
- Taste for salt and add if needed
- 1 stainless steel 6- or 8-quart sauce pot
- Stainless steel 3-quart saucepan
- Slotted spoon
- 1 large bowl
- Glass or plastic containers to storage the marinated vegetables
- In the 8 quart pot, mix all ingredients for the pickling liquid. Transfer 2 cups of it to the small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- In a large bowl, combine the condiments except for the bay leaves, which you will add last.
- Add cauliflower florets to the boiling liquid in the large pot, bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until al dente. When cauliflower is done, use a slatted spoon to transfer cooked vegetables to a big bowl.
- In the same water, cook the celery for 6 minutes, and in the same manner, cook artichokes for 1 minute.
- If you add other vegetables, cook for 3 to 6 minutes, until al dente. Use your judgment and taste the vegetables to make sure they are properly cooked.
- Cook fresh pearl onions for 4 minutes. You can substitute pearl onions for small red onions cut into quarters and cooked for 4 minutes.
- Bring the small saucepan to a boil, add carrots and cook for 6 minutes. If using tiny baby carrots, reduce time to 3 minutes.
- In the small pot add the yellow pepper and follow with red pepper, cooking each for 4 minutes.
- 8. When you have all the cooked vegetables in the bowl, mix in a jar of peperoncini and the olives.
- 9. Taste for salt, and if you like a more pungent giardiniera, add some more vinegar. Mix in bay leaves last and make sure the vegetables are submerged, adding some of the pickling liquid if necessary. Store in a plastic or glass containers. Serve as antipasto or a side dish. It will keep refrigerated for about a month.