Giardiniera – A Chicago Specialty

Since we’ve moved overseas, we crave many things from home. Twizzlers, McCormicks celery salt, Sweet Baby Rays bbq sauce, dill pickles, the list goes on and on. One of our favorites is giardiniera and while we bring back with us bottles of this and that, let’s be honest, with the overweight-charge rates the airlines are oh-so-nice to slam us with, I thought “how hard is it really to make giardiniera?”
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For those who are not aware what giardiniera is, it is in fact a Chicago staple.  It’s pickled vegetables and peppers that can range from mild to extremely spicy.  In our house, this stuff goes on eggs with cheese and peppers, brats, pizza, sandwiches, you name it… we’ve tried it on a lot of dishes, at least once.

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I found a recipe by The Chicago Tribune and like most recipes, I never can follow them without putting my spin on them. We adapted it to our liking. When you grab a spoonful of these pickled peppers, everyone is maneuvering the spoon to get pieces of their favorite vegetables. We all do it. My favorite happens to be the cauliflower and celery.  Jason’s is celery, onions, and carrots. So, with a few tweaks, we created our own version.

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Chicago-style Giardiniera

(adapted from The Chicago Tribune recipe)
I used an assortment of canning jars in various sizes. Whatever size you decide to use, make sure they are thoroughly clean before using.

Brine
6 jalapeños (or serrano peppers), sliced thickly
2 red and green bell peppers, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 yellow onion, diced
6 celery rib, each sliced in half and diced
1/2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1/2 c salt

Marinade
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp celery seeds
freshly ground black pepper
1.5 c white vinegar
2.5 c vegetable oil (olive oil, canola or sunflower oil works great as well)

Preparing the jars
Make sure your glass jars are thoroughly clean, either by boiling them in water, or washing them well with very hot water.

Directions
Combine the jalapenos, bell peppers, celery, carrot, onion and cauliflower florets in a large bowl and stire in the salt.  Add cold water to cover vegetables and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 12 hours. Drain salt water, rinse vegetables and set the bowl aside.

Combine the garlic, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds and black pepper to taste in a medium bowl and set aside. Pour the vinegar into a medium bowl and whisk in the seasonings. Whisk in the olive oil and pour over the vegetables. Toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 48 hours before using.

topping off:
If there’s not enough marinade, add a 3:5 mix of vinegar and oil to top off container. An open jar of giardiniera will keep in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 weeks but unopened will last for 3-4 months.  Even though we did not process the filled jars in boiling water, due to the natural preservative effect of the brined vegetables and vinegar it stays fresh for several months if kept refrigerated.  We keep ours in the back of the fridge because it’s the coldest spot.  The longer you let it pickle, the more intense the flavor.

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5 thoughts on “Giardiniera – A Chicago Specialty

  1. Have you had the pickled veggie mix you can find here in Germany? We tried it once and it wasn’t very good. Just tastes like normal pickles, really. What you made looks *way* more appetizing.

    • Thanks Jay! We have and also found them to be similar to normal pickles as well. You should try this recipe. Lots of flavor and versatile with your favorite vegetables, oils, and vinegar’s. Let me know if you try it, I’d love to hear your feedback.

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