What exactly is Giardiniera, how in the heck do you pronounce it, and what is it used for?
Translated to: “from the garden”, Giardiniera, (pronounced Jar-DEEN-air-ah) …and, if you can roll the R in “air”, you get bonus points, is an Italian relish of pickled vegetables in vinegar and or oil.
Quite often, you’ll see Giardiniera as one of the choices in an antipasto platter, or a topping on salads, on nachos, or on sandwiches such as the Muffuletta. And, if you love the food at Portillo’s, the Chicago natives will tell you it’s an essential topping on their Italian beef sandwich.
Even pasta, burgers, and omelets are fair game for this Italian condiment.
Italian Giardiniera is also called sottaceti (“under vinegar”), a common term for pickled foods.
It’s said to have originated in Italy where farmers would pickle their late harvest vegetables to preserve them through the winter months.
The vegetables used to make Giardiniera vary but most commonly you will see a mixture of bell peppers, celery, carrots, cauliflower, and small cucumbers (gherkins) or olives. All are swimming beneath a brine of vinegar, water, and spices. You also have a choice of mild or hot, depending on the spices or peppers that are used.
The American home for Giardiniera is generally considered to be Chicago, primarily because the Italians who came to Chicago in the early 1900s brought their ancestor’s recipes and their passion for this pickled condiment with them.
As they themselves migrated throughout the country, so did Giardiniera.
Thankfully, you don’t need a plane ticket to Italy, or even to make a drive to Chicago to enjoy this delicious pickled treasure. You can make it with one of the Great Lakes Company Pickling Pouches.
- If you intend to use your Giardiniera as part of an antipasto platter, leave the vegetables cut as described below, if you are planning to use it as a relish/condiment, cut them much smaller.
- You can control how “hot” you wish your Giardiniera to be by using either bell peppers (no heat), or serrano peppers (heat).
- Regarding the celery, it is best if you use a vegetable peeler to strip off the outer, fibrous veins before slicing.
- If using pearled onions, use small ones, soak them in water for an hour or so then peel off the skins. Leave them whole, if possible.
Gardiniera Recipe using the Great Lakes Pickling Company Pickling Pouch
- 1 cups cauliflower florets, 1-inch diameter
- 1/2 cup carrots, cut in half lengthwise then in 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 cup whole peeled pearl onions, or white onion cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup celery, cut in 1/2 inch pieces on the bias
- 3 to 5 garlic cloves, whole, or chopped coarsely
- 1/2 green bell pepper, (or serrano pepper) cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Add 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pickling pouch.
- Add your vegetables.
- Top off with water to cover.
- Seal well, then gently shake to distribute all the ingredients.
- Remove from the refrigerator and gently shake each day for 7 days.