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10.17.14 Homemade Hot Giardiniera

10.17.14 Homemade Hot Giardiniera

Hot giardiniera may well be greatest condiment of all time. At least in my book. A lovely, colorful hodgepodge of spicy, crunchy, slightly pickled vegetables, awash in oil, spices, and a little punch of vinegar. This stuff doesn’t mess around. Once you try it, it’s hard not to be hooked. And I’m no exception to this rule.


If you’re unfamiliar with giardiniera, well, let me enlighten you. Like many wonderful culinary delights, this most delicious condiment originated in Italy. In fact the name ‘giardiniera’, besides being really fun to try to pronounce, basically means ‘pickled vegetables’ in Italian. The original giardiniera was just that - nice, crisp pickled vegetables, usually eaten as an antipasto. Delicious, yes. Mindblowing? Well, that part came later, after Italian immigrants brought giardiniera to Chicago and decided to kick things up a notch. With the addition of hot peppers, oil, and spices this potpourri of pickled vegetables soon became the world’s greatest condiment. One would be hard pressed to find an Italian sausage, hot beef, or porketta sandwich that is not made infinitely more wonderful when topped with a pile of this stuff.

And now that I have your attention, what if I were to tell you that with minimal effort on your part, a homemade jar of this fantastic stuff could be yours? Not only that, but if you’re like me and have a whole bunch of random vegetables languishing away in your crisper, this is the perfect way to resurrect them into something truly marvelous. Best of all, making your own custom concoction means that you can make your giardiniera as hot (or as mild) as you like. Me, I’m packing in as many hot peppers as I can get my hands on. Bring a jar to your next tailgate cookout, and it’s sure to be destroyed in seconds. It’s just that good.

Homemade Hot Giardiniera

makes about 4 cups

Usually made with a mix of peppers (hot and sweet), carrots, celery, and cauliflower, feel free to tweak this recipe to fit what vegetables you have on hand. I had a lovely head of romanesco  on hand, which I subbed out for the cauliflower with delicious results. Also while serrano or jalapeno peppers are fantastic, any hot pepper will do - I happened to have a bunch of lemon drop peppers growing in my garden which made a tasty addition.  Make sure to plan ahead - the vegetables have to soak overnight, and the finished product will be even tastier after sitting for a couple of days. If you can wait that long.

  • 1 medium head cauliflower or romanesco, cut into small pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, cut into small pieces
  • 2 carrots, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium green pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into small pieces
  • 5-6 hot peppers (or more to taste) such as serrano or jalapeno, cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tbsp salt (yes that’s a LOT of salt. Most will be rinsed off, don’t worry)
  • 1 cup neutral oil, such as canola
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chile flake
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

1. Place chopped cauliflower, celery, carrots, and peppers in a large bowl with the salt. Mix to combine. Fill bowl with enough cold water to just cover the vegetables, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Drain vegetables in a colander, and rinse with cold water to remove any excess salt.

3. In a large bowl, stir together the oil, vinegar, garlic, chile flake, and herbs. Add the vegetables and mix well.

4. Transfer mixture to mason jars, cover, and refrigerate.  Let giardiniera sit for about 2 days for flavors to blend before eating. It’s a tough wait, but well worth it. Enjoy on everything.

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