Giardiniera is a staple condiment found anywhere in Chicago where you can get an Italian Beef sandwich. You can usually choose a hot or mild version of this delicacy depending on your tolerance for heat. My recipe is pretty much right in the middle. Aside from a sandwich condiment, Giardiniera can also be included in Antipasto or just served as a side for just about any dish hot or cold.
This simple combination of crunchy, marinated vegetables is basically an Italian relish. Most commercial brands sold in jars are made with vinegar. Since mine doesn’t have to sit on a grocer’s shelf for weeks or months, I make it with oil which keeps the vegetables crisper and fresher tasting.
First a simple how-to pronunciation guide for Giardiniera; the dictionary phonetic pronunciation is [giar-di-niè-re] but might be more easily understood as [gyar-dee-nyeh-rey]. However, if you’re asking for it in Chicago, just go with the local [jar-din-air-uh!] and you’ll never go wrong.
This is not my Grandma Bess’s giardiniera, it’s mine. My grandmother was British, but “Nonna’s Italian Giardiniera” is just a better recipe name. Somebody’s Nonna out there somewhere has to make Giardiniera this good!
Nonna’s Italian Giardiniera
Yield: 5 Cups Preparation Time: 20 Minutes + 2 days marinating
• 6 Cups Water
• ¾ Cup Kosher Salt
• 2 Cups Carrots, peeled and crinkle cut into ⅛” rounds
• 2 Cups Cauliflower, cut into ½” florets
• 2 Cups Celery, cut crosswise into ¼” pieces
• 1 Cup Onion, cut into ½” dice
• 2 Cups Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½” dice
• 4 Serrano Peppers, sliced into ⅛” coins
• 4 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
• 2 Cups Canola Oil
• 1 Cup Olive Oil
• 1½ Tablespoons Dried Oregano
• ½ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Step 1. Dissolve the salt into the water in a non-metallic bowl.
Step 2. Add the carrots, cauliflower, celery, onion, peppers and 2 teaspoons of the garlic powder to the salt water and stir. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3. Rinse the vegetables in a colander and let them drain well. Transfer them to a gallon size zippered storage bag.
Step 4. Whisk the oils together with the oregano, black pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Add to the vegetables and toss to completely combine. Allow to marinate refrigerated overnight, turning the bag to keep recoating the vegetables with the marinade.
Serve the Giardiniera with our Italian Beef Sandwich - Chicago Style and if there is any remaining, store it in jars with tight fitting lids for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
Tips and Trending
~ I use a “crinkle cut” blade for the carrots for two reasons: First, carrots are the densest of the vegetables we’re using and the wavy cut gives them more surface area through which to absorb the seasonings. Second, they look way more attractive!
~ Add more heat by adding additional Serrano peppers. To reduce the heat, remove and discard the seeds from the peppers before reducing the number of peppers used.
~ We use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic to avoid bacterial contamination.
~ Try to remove as much air as possible when you seal the storage bag. Keep the bag inside a bowl to prevent any accidental messes in your refrigerator.