Giardiniera (pronounced jar-deen-YAIR-uh) meaning “from the garden” aka pickled garden vegetables with herbs and spices. Mild or hot, this is the healthy delicious homemade condiment that should be in your refrigerator at all times.
Giardiniera Italian Pickled Vegetables
There are as many variations of Giardiniera recipes out there as there are households with each one of them claiming to have the very best recipe, and they are all right!
Fatto in Casa Verdure Sottaceto meaning “homemade vegetables under vinegar” is the only way to go. You simply can’t grab this from a supermarket shelf in the Alimentari and be fully satisfied. My recipe is very cauliflower and pepper centric with the perfect al dente crunch, it’s my love letter to the pickled vegetables cult classic, but really the recipe is meant to be tampered with and adapted to your liking.
What is Giardiniera?
It’s technically a quick Italian pickled vegetable salad for the fridge that could be used as a rustic sauce, a relish or a spread on a sandwich. Traditionally served as an Aperitivo on the Antipasto platter like you would a tapenade, ideally alongside our favorite homemade dairy-free mozzarella. Like a great cole slaw or Kimchi, I like to call it vegan gold!
Think of what vegetables you really enjoy pickled and use them in your mix. Mine is heavy on colorful cauliflower and peppers but it’s very common to add celery, gherkins and even green beans.
About the Giardiniera Peppers
Any sweet peppers you have growing in the garden can work here. I like using large red bell peppers and / or the golden Marconi peppers if available. The secret lies in roasting the peppers first for both flavor and texture. And now you know what makes my recipe the very best, and it’s okay if your Nonna didn’t make it this way. Because I like mine hot and spicy I also add a red chili pepper sliced into thin rounds. If that doesn’t do it for you then add in a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or leave them out all together if you want to go mild. Alternatively you could go for a few pepperoncini and call it a day.
The Pickled Vegetables
- Cauliflower – My favorite veggie to eat pickled, so I used one pound of mixed colorful florets here. I started with frozen that I ran under some cold running water before separating the florets into smaller bite size pieces. I’m loving the texture of the frozen-defrost cauliflower here, it’s perfectly al dente to me, but for a crunchier result make sure to start with fresh.
- Peppers – Unless you are growing Italian Marconi in your garden just use any bell peppers you find. Roast them until charred on all sides under the broiler or a cast iron plate. The subtle smokiness will marry with the rest of the veggies beautifully. I also prefer the texture of the peppers after roasting versus the crunch of the fresh ones.
- Shallot – Adds mild oniony flavor and variety into the mix. 1/4 cup of red onion could be used instead, 3 sprigs of scallions or a small handful of Cipollini onions. Whatever you fancy.
- Garlic – 3 large cloves thinly sliced stir up some tasty magic in the flavor profile.
- Carrot – One small peeled and thinly sliced carrot is plenty. Personally I could do without, I think it’s better if you grate it as the rounds don’t get as soft as the rest of the veggies.
- Celery (optional) – Okay, I’m not a fan of celery ribs here, I’ve always felt they act like a filler, however I love using celery seed instead. Get a burst of wonderful flavor and save the space for roasted peppers and extra cauliflower or the yellow beans. You do you though!
The Pickling Brine
I love my pickled vegetables with just a subtle touch of sweetness, more sour than sweet so not very obviously agro-dolce (sweet and sour). Packed in brine (not oil like the Chicago-style riff on the Italian classic), fruity apple cider vinegar is my acid of choice but you can use any white vinegar you prefer or a mix of white and red. Sea salt is nice but don’t overdo it, this goes straight into the fridge so focus on flavor not year long preservation.
When available either in the garden or the farmers market, I love using Italian Romano flat yellow beans in the mix. You could add capers or olives like they do in New Orleans, a thinly sliced fennel bulb, cucumbers and even radishes. There’s even a Piemontese-style recipe that sneaks in some of the best homegrown garden tomatoes.
- On Focaccia Bread
- Sprinkled on the Best Pizza Dough
- Homemade Italian Bread
- Veggie Dogs & Tacos
- Tossed in this divine Panzanella Salad
- Italian Bruschetta Topping
- Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
- In this Smashed Chickpea Sandwich
- Spooned over a big bowl of Hummus or White Bean Dip
- On the Antipasto platter
- With a bowl of Rice Pilaf & Borlotti Beans
- Elevate your Potato Salad
- Pasta Salad
- On Everything!
On Storage + Canning
These pickled vegetables are intended to be stored in the refrigerator. Once your jar has cooled off refrigerate promptly and consume within two to three weeks. Freezing is not recommended. Any recycled jar could be used with this recipe. Bigger is better, wide mouth 1000 ml gives you plenty of space to work with.
If you intend on canning this recipe to make it shelf stable (so not for the refrigerator) then make sure to be using proper canning jars with lids and gaskets and follow all safety guidelines for canning vegetables to prevent any foodborne illness like botulism. Always follow USDA guidelines!
How to Make Giardiniera
- 1 lb cauliflower florets frozen or fresh
- 3 bell peppers roasted (or 5 Marconi peppers)
- 1 small carrot peeled + thinly sliced
- 1 red chili pepper or to taste
- 1 shallot thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1.5 tsp oregano
- 3/4 tsp celery seed
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil optional
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 pinch sea salt
- Start by roasting the peppers under the broiler or a cast iron griddle until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl and cover with a towel until cool enough to handle. Peel and discard the core with the seeds. Tear or chop the flesh of the peppers into strips or bite size pieces. Transfer back into the bowl and mix with 1 Tbsp of red wine vinegar and optional 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.3 bell peppers roasted, 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- If using frozen cauliflower florets add them to a colander and run under some cold water. Drain well and tear them into smaller bite size pieces. Add to the bowl with the roasted peppers together with the carrot, chili peppers, shallot and garlic.1 lb cauliflower florets, 1 small carrot, 1 red chili pepper, 1 shallot, 3 garlic cloves
- Sprinkle the vegetable mixture with the oregano, celery seed, a pinch of salt and the peppercorns. Using a spoon transfer the mix to a large jar together with the bay leaves (750 ml - 1000ml jar)2 bay leaves, 1.5 tsp oregano, 3/4 tsp celery seed, 1 pinch sea salt, 1 tsp black or pink peppercorns
- In a small saucepan combine the brine ingredients and bring to a simmer. Stir well until the sugar has melted. Carefully pour the hot mixture over the vegetables. If need be use a spoon to push down on the veggies to make sure they are all immersed.1 cup water, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp granulated sugar or maple syrup, 2 tsp sea salt
- Cover with the lid and allow to cool off before refrigerating. For best flavor allow the veggies to marry overnight, but this Giardiniera is delicious even a couple of hours later.
On Storage + Canning
- These pickled vegetables are intended to be stored in the refrigerator. Once your jar has cooled off refrigerate promptly and consume within two to three weeks. Freezing is not recommended. Any recycled jar could be used with this recipe. Bigger is better, wide mouth 1000 ml gives you plenty of space to work with.
- PROPER CANNING - If you intend on CANNING this recipe to make it shelf stable (so not for the refrigerator) then make sure to be using proper canning jars with lids and gaskets and follow all safety guidelines for canning vegetables to prevent any foodborne illness like botulism. Always follow USDA guidelines!