Put a Jar of Flavor in the Fridge by Making Giardiniera

The right choice of peppers makes all the difference in your giardiniera's flavor.

A blend of pickled vegetables in oil, vinegar or both, giardiniera is commonly enjoyed as an antipasto or salad topping in Italy. However, a version of the topping has become the definitive condiment in Chicago cuisine. In this form, giardiniera adds a welcome kick to a wide range of favorites like Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, bratwurst and pizza.

For anyone who is learning to cook and appreciates that distinctive combination of flavors, making a jar at home can be simple and delicious. If you’ve never pickled vegetables before, preparing giardiniera is a great way to get started.

Choose your veggies
Your choice of ingredients will depend on whether you prefer the milder taste of Italian giardiniera or the spiciness of Chicago style. Eating Well provided a recipe that features less heat, but plenty of flavorful produce. It calls for cauliflower, carrot, celery and red bell pepper.

The version suggested by The Paupered Chef, on the other hand, does not skimp on the spice. The directions require six serrano peppers in addition to two bell peppers. This combination ensures your giardiniera will pack enough punch to satisfy any Chicagoan.

By bringing your ingredients to a boil, you can speed up the pickling process.By bringing your ingredients to a boil, you can speed up the pickling process.

Prepare for pickling
Whatever vegetables you select, the key step is the pickling process. The New York Times recommended combining the vegetables with salt in a bowl.Then, add water to the mixture, covering the bowl and letting it rest for up to 12 hours.

Drain the vegetables and rinse them off. Sterilize a glass jar and begin preparing a dressing by mixing garlic with oregano, crushed black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, dried oregano and celery seeds. Pour in white vinegar, olive oil and grapeseed or safflower oil, and shake until the oils and vinegar form an emulsion. Place the vegetables in the jar, ensuring they are completely covered by the dressing.

If you don’t have the time for all that waiting, you can perform a quick pickle. Martha Stewart suggested bringing a combination of white wine vinegar, water, salt, sugar, cloves, celery seeds and a bay leaf to a boil. Then, toss in serrano peppers, onion, carrots, celery and cauliflower and let them reach a boil again.

Refrigerate
When you’ve finished your giardiniera, seal it tightly into a jar and refrigerate. The mix will stay fresh and tasty for up to two weeks. It’s a good idea to give the pickled vegetables two days to mellow before serving, especially for the spicier versions.

If you’re looking for easy recipes to step up your cooking, making some giardiniera is a fantastic idea. Once you have a jar on hand, you can make a variety of dishes more exciting.

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