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Giardiniera is a classic Italian appetizer (antipasto) of vegetables pickled in a blend of vinegar, oil and spices. It's a crisp, zesty medley that's easy to make and totally addictive.
You'll want to eat these pickled vegetables within a couple of weeks, so I've written the recipe to make just one quart. If you think you'll want more, it's easy to double the recipe.
Allow a few days for pickling.
There's no cooking required for this giardiniera recipe, but you will need to start a few days before you plan to eat them. The raw vegetables sit overnight in a salty brine that seasons and softens them to a perfectly crisp tender texture. After draining and rinsing, you'll pile the vegetables into a jar and cover with a rich and piquant dressing. After a a couple of days in the refrigerator you'll have perfectly pickled vegetables ready to enjoy.
Ingredients You Need to Make Giardiniera
- Cauliflower: Look for a tightly close, firm head without discoloration.
- Jalapeño: Or serrano pepper, look for firm a pepper with shiny, taut skin.
- Red Bell Pepper: You could also use yellow or orange bell pepper.
- Celery: Tip for the freshest celery: look at the top ends. If they look dry and hollow, it's likely that the base of your celery ribs will be too. Look for firm, tightly packed stalks with bright green, solid top ends.
- Carrots: Look for bright orange, firm carrots with smooth skin.
- White Wine Vinegar: Regular white vinegar will also work, but will have a sharper vinegar flavor than the more delicate taste of white wine vinegar. (White vinegar is made from distilled grain, while wine vinegar is made from - you guessed it! 😉 - wine.)
- Oregano: Your favorite dried oregano.
- Black Pepper: Freshly ground is best/
- Red Pepper Flakes: Add more than the recipe calls for spicier vegetables if you like.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin or refined. See note below about choosing oils.
- Avocado Oil: Or another vegetable oil like canola oil. See note below about choosing oils.
Though the two are similar, Italian giardiniera is made with bite size vegetables to enjoy as an appetizer or salad ingredients, while the vegetables in Chicago-Style giardiniera are cut small and served as a condiment for salads, hot dogs, etc. Often Chicago-Style is quite spicy and many recipes call only for oil, no vinegar.
Olive oil adds wonderful flavor to giardiniera, but note that extra virgin olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator, unlike refined olive oil. The same goes for avocado oil. I use avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil because they're what I always have on hand. If you'd like to do the same, just plan to take your pickled vegetables out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes or so before you plan to enjoy them to give the oil time to warm and liquify.
Otherwise, use a vegetable oil like canola oil and refined olive oil that won't solidify when cold.
Think of the vegetable amounts here as suggestions. Let's say you're partial to cauliflower (like I am), cut it a bit smaller or omit one of the other vegetables to add more. The goal is for everything to fit in the jar, the vegetable ratio is up to you.
Should you end up with more vegetables than you can fit in one jar, partially fill another (or use a second smaller jar) and mix up enough dressing to cover. If you end up with extra dressing, it's great on salads too!
Prefer a hot giardiniera? Add more sliced jalapeño or serrano peppers. Or, even simpler, add more red pepper flakes.
More of My Favorite Pickled Vegetables
- Pickled Asparagus
- Pickled Beets
- Pickles Radishes
- Refrigerator Pickles
- Pickled Red Onions
- Sweet and Spicy Butter Pickles
How to Make Giardiniara
Step 1: Combine cut vegetables (cauliflower, jalapeño, red bell pepper, celery, carrots) and kosher salt in a large bowl; stir to combine. Add enough cold water to cover vegetables; cover and let stand overnight at room temperature.
Step 2: Drain and rinse vegetables; transfer a sterilized quart jar. Whisk together dressing ingredients until emulsified (white vinegar, oregano, black pepper, red pepper flakes, white vinegar, olive oil, and avocado oil) and pour over vegetables in jar. Seal with lid and allow to pickle in refrigerator for 2 days before serving.
- ½ medium head cauliflower cut into small florets
- 1 jalapeño thinly sliced, or serrano pepper
- 1 red bell pepper cut into ¼-inch sticks
- 2 celery ribs sliced on the bias ⅙-inch thick
- 2 medium carrots peeled and sliced on the bias ⅙-inch thick
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- pinch crushed red pepper or more
- ¾ cup white wine vinegar or white vinegar (recipe note #1)
- ⅓ cup olive oil (recipe note #2)
- ⅓ cup avocado oil or other vegetable oil, (recipe note #2)
- To a large bowl add cauliflower, jalapeño, red bell pepper, celery, carrot, and salt. Stir well until combined. Add enough cold water to cover vegetables; cover and let stand at room temperature overnight (up to 12 hours).
- Drain and rinse vegetables.
- In a clean quart jar (sterilized or fresh from the dishwasher) combine oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper, vinegar, and oils; shake well to emulsify. Pack vegetables into jar, pressing down so that all are coated in marinade. Seal with lid and refrigerate 2 days before serving.
- If you like mildly vinegary pickled vegetables, stick with more delicate white wine vinegar. White vinegar has a sharper, more pungent flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil will naturally solidify in the refrigerator. Just take the vegetables out 15 minutes or so before you plan to serve them for the oil to liquify. Or use refined olive oil and a vegetable oil like canola oil that will remain liquid when chilled.
- If you end up with extra dressing, use it on salads. It's delicious!
- Enjoy within 2 weeks.