Our homemade Giardiniera recipe gives you the freedom to choose your level of heat. These Italian pickled vegetables are the perfect, crisp sandwich topper and much more!
What is Giardiniera?
Giardiniera (pronounced JAR-di-NAIR-ah) means “from the garden” in Italian. The concept has quite a long history in Italy, where fresh garden produce was pickled and marinated as a way of preserving it for the winter.
It was the early 1920s that giardiniera started to make a name for itself in the communities of Italian immigrants in Chicago. Although it grew in popularity throughout the city, if you’ve never been to Chicago or tasted a Chicato style Italian beef sandwich, you may not have ever heard of this tangy, crunchy condiment.
Giardiniera: Italian Pickled Vegetables
In Italy, giardiniera is served as an antipasto, or appetizer. Fresh, garden cauliflower, celery, carrots, bell peppers, hot peppers are the staples of Italian giardiniera, but sometimes you will see others added.
Since this is considered an appetizer in Italy, the vegetables are cut into one or two bite chunks, making the dish a bulky appetizer or side dish. The traditional Italian brine and marinade is quite simple, letting the flavor of the vegetables shine with just a bit of vinegar tang and a few herbs to complement the crisp texture.
In Chicago, giardiniera takes a smaller and more intensely flavored form. There, the vegetables are chopped smaller, although not diced as finely as you would for a relish. The pieces are just small enough that they can be used as a topping or garnish.
The marinade for Chicago-style giardiniera can include a much longer list of ingredients, including garlic, herbs, celery seed, red pepper flakes, and the list goes on. Each version has its own twist, and the marinade is where a lot of flavor variation can happen.
You will find Chicago-style giardiniera labeled as traditional or hot. The hot version typically includes seranno peppers to kick things up a notch.
What do you put giardiniera on?
In the Windy City, giardiniera is the classic topping for Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches and Italian sausage sandwiches. You might find it topping bratwursts, hot dogs, sub sandwiches, even pizza!
We like to throw it on top of salads to add a fun boost of flavor.
Our Homemade Giardiniera Recipe
The process to make giardiniera does take nearly a week, but before you run away to your grocery store’s aisles for a jar of pre-made giardiniera, know that nearly all of that time is hands-off on your part.
There are two main steps to making giardiniera: the brine and the marinade.
First, the vegetables are brined in a simple mixture of salt and water. This brine solution draws moisture out of the vegetables, helping them to stay crisp in the marinade.
In the second step, the brined vegetables are marinated in a mixture of oil, vinegar, and seasonings. We give this mixture lots of space to marinate in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for three days, before transferring it to its final resting place in mason jar.
As you can see, the process is quite simple. And, after a few days, you will have your own giardiniera, spiced just the way you like it, all ready for topping everything from Italian beef sandwiches to pizza!
This recipe may take 5 days to make, but most of it is hands-off time.
Yield: 3 cups of giardiniera
- ¼ c salt
- 1 c carrots, sliced
- 1 c cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 2-4 serrano chilies, sliced (depending on desired heat level)
- ¾ c canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ c white vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp oregano
Mix 2 c water with the salt and stir until dissolved. Add the carrot slices, cauliflower, celery, bell peppers, and serranos. Mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Drain and rinse the vegetables.
In a clean bowl, mix oil and vinegar with the garlic and oregano. Add the vegetables to the seasoned oil and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
After 3 days in the bowl, transfer the vegetables to a quart jar, pour as much of the seasoned oil/vinegar mixture in as you need to cover the vegetables.
The mixture will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.
Harvesting Summer with the Sunday Supper Group
This week the Sunday Supper tastemakers are sharing recipes to harvest summer’s bounty and keep the flavors lingering all winter long. Thanks to Caroline Williams from Caroline’s Cooking for hosting this week.
- Blackberry Lemon Thyme Syrup by Sunday Supper Movement
- Brinjal pickle (Indian eggplant relish/aubergine chutney) by Caroline’s Cooking
- Freezer Mixed Berry Puree by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Ginger Fig Jam by Palatable Pastime
- Herbed Salsa by What Smells So Good?
- Homemade Giardiniera by Curious Cuisiniere
- Homemade Sriracha by Monica’s Table
- Hot Pepper Oil by Feeding Big and more
- Mediterranean Chutney by Wholistic Woman
- Nanny’s 7-Day Sweet Pickles by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Nectarine Kumquat Habanero Chutney by Food Lust People Love
- No Pectin Mixed Berry Jam by My Imperfect Kitchen
- Peach Butter by Redhead Baker
- Pear Ginger Jam by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Simple Basil Butter by Momma’s Meals
- Spicy Mango Jam by Family Foodie
- Stove Top Roasted Garlic by Cricket’s Confections
- Tomato and Chili Pepper Jam by Delaware Girl Eats
- Grilled Peach and Burrata Pizza by An Appealing Plan
- Oven Roasted Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce by Renee’s Kitchen Adventures
- Tomato-Zucchini Pesto Flatbread with Chevre and Balsamic Drizzle by The Weekend Gourmet
- Homemade Fruit Leather by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Slow Cooker Cinnamon Apple Sauce by Books n’ Cooks
- Chocolate Zucchini Banana Muffins by The Bitter Side of Sweet
- Drunken Peaches by Nosh My Way
- Freeze and Bake Blueberry Pie by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- How to Freeze Peaches and Make Peach Sauce by The Freshman Cook
- How to Make Chocolate Zucchini Bread by Asian In America
- Mom’s Zucchini Bread by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Peach Yogurt Popsicles by Food Done Light
- Summer Fruit Crisp by Pies and Plots
- Summer Fruit Popsicles by Powered By BLING
- Berry Shrubs + A Cocktail by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
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