How To Make Giardiniera, the Italian Condiment You’ll Want to Put on Everything

updated Feb 3, 2020
How to Make Giardiniera

A step-by-step guide to making Italian pickled vegetables.

Serves8 to 10

Makesabout 7 cups

Prep20 minutes

Cook12 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Visit any Italian market and, tucked among the olives, capers, and roasted red peppers, you’ll find giardiniera. For years I paid no attention to the tall jars of veggies swimming in vinegar and spices, but that all changed when I read Staff Writer Lauren‘s love letter to the stuff. Her article convinced me to go out and buy a jar, and it’s been a constant in my fridge ever since.

Only recently did it dawn on me that it’s incredibly easy to make giardiniera myself. If you have a few dry spices and vinegar in your pantry, you can DIY it, and the result is decidedly brighter and fresher than the jarred version. If you’re looking for a spicy, tangy, crunchy condiment to instantly jazz up just about anything you’re eating, giardiniera is it.

What Is Giardiniera?

To Italians, giardiniera is a way of saying pickled vegetables. The condiment is also known as verdure sottaceto, which translates to “vegetables under vinegar.” The vegetables are usually eaten as an antipasto, often accompanied by cheeses or cured meats, or eaten with salads.

Like many Italian dishes, there’s a traditional and an Italian-American version of giardiniera. The latter is referred to as “Chicago-style.” Italian-style giardiniera includes cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, celery, and sometimes gherkins, and the vegetables are marinated in olive oil, red or white wine vinegar, herbs, and spices. Chicago-style giardiniera is similar, but hot peppers are typically added to the mix and the marinade contains little or no vinegar. Instead, it’s a simple mix of oil, herbs, and spices. This recipe fits squarely in the middle of these two iterations: It’s got lots of vinegary tang, plus the added heat of pepperoncinis.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How Do I Serve Giardiniera?

Giardiniera is incredibly versatile. It’s most at home next to a plate of Italian cheese and cured meats for an appetizer spread or snack board, but that’s just the beginning. The vegetables remain crisp-tender in the marinade, making them the perfect thing to toss with peppery arugula or tender greens for an upgrade on my usual plain green salads. I also loved tossing them with whole grains like quinoa and farro for an instant grain salad. Or, roast them on a sheet pan with frozen gnocchi and meatballs for a colorful, family-friendly dinner.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
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Here's how to make the best giardiniera at home.

How to Make Giardiniera

A step-by-step guide to making Italian pickled vegetables.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes

Makes about 7 cups

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    medium head cauliflower

  • 2

    medium carrots

  • 2 stalks

    celery

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper

  • 2 cups

    white wine vinegar

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 16

    small pickled pepperoncinis

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons

    fennel seeds

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

Equipment

  • Chef’s knife

  • Cutting board

  • Medium saucepan

  • Colander or strainer

  • Large bowl

  • Whisk

  • Wooden spoon

  • Plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. Cut the vegetables. Cut 1/2 head cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Peel 2 carrots and thinly slice them crosswise on a slight diagonal. Thinly slice 2 stalks celery on a slight diagonal. Cut 1 red bell pepper into 1/4-inch-thick strips.

  2. Simmer the vegetables in a vinegar solution. Bring 2 cups white wine vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 2 bay leaves to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, add the cauliflower and carrots, and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the celery and red bell pepper and continue to simmer until all the vegetables are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

  3. Add the pepperoncinis to the vegetables. Stir 16 small pickled pepperoncinis into the vegetable mixture. Cover the saucepan and let the vegetables marinate in the vinegar solution for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the marinade.

  4. Make the marinade. Place 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano in a large bowl. When the vegetables are done marinating in the vinegar solution, transfer 2 tablespoons of the vinegar solution to the bowl of olive oil. Whisk until combined and emulsified.

  5. Add the vegetables to the marinade. Pour the vegetables through a strainer or colander to drain, then add them to the marinade. Toss well to combine, then set aside until cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

  6. Marinate the vegetables. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day before enjoying cold or at room temperature. Toss again before serving.

Recipe Notes

Storage: The giardiniera can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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