|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
These are the colorful, tangy mixed vegetable pickles graced with olive oil that show up as part of your antipasto plate before the main food arrives in Italian restaurants. They are easy to make and delicious.
The oil in this recipe is used more as a flavoring than as a preservation factor, so be sure to use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. Also, the oil will congeal in the refrigerator, so let the giardiniera come to room temperature for the olive oil to re-liquify before serving.
- 1 small cauliflower head (about 1 pound)
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 red bell pepper (and/or yellow or green peppers)
- 6 carrots
- 1 onion (white or yellow)
- 1 3/4 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or other non-iodized, medium grain salt)
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or 2 teaspoons honey)
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic (peeled and lightly smashed)
- 1 bay leaf
- Optional: 1 small, hot chile pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 4 to 6 black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Wash the cauliflower, celery and bell pepper. Remove the solid core from the cauliflower and break the rest up into approximately 1-inch florets. Remove the stem, seeds, and any white pith from the red bell pepper. Chop the celery and pepper into 1-inch pieces. Alternatively, cut the peppers into strips.
Peel the carrots and chop them into 1-inch pieces.
Peel the onion and cut it in half. Cut the halves into 1/4-inch thick slices.
Combine the white wine vinegar, water, salt, and the sugar or honey in a large pot. Note that you could also use distilled white vinegar, but the flavor won't be as good. Either way, what you're after is not only acidity to safely preserve the food, but also a clear brine that shows off the colors of the pickles.
Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar or honey.
Add the vegetables to the brine and simmer them for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the garlic, hot chile pepper (if using), bay leaf, mustard seeds, and whole black peppercorns into a clean glass quart jar.
Remove the pot from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to the jar. Pour the hot brine over the other ingredients. You want the vegetables and spices to be completely immersed in the liquid, but there should still be 3/4-inch head space between the surface of the brine and the rim of the jar.
Pour the extra-virgin olive oil on top of the brine. There should be just enough oil to completely cover the surface of the brine.
Refrigerate for at least one week before sampling. The giardiniera will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 months. If you want to can it for longer storage at room temperature, leave out the layer of olive oil and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes (adjust the canning time if you live at a high altitude).
Other vegetables that work well in giardiniera include zucchini, green beans, and romanesco broccoli.