I’m obsessed with giardiniera and have been meaning to make it for ages. Also, since marrying an Italian, I’ve felt inexplicably compelled to master all Italian cuisine. I was hesitant though because I like my pickled goods to be sweet rather than salty and I was afraid that most recipes were on the saltier side. A few weekends ago we were at the farmers market and there were so many good giardiniera veggies out that I stocked up and decided to just go for it. After searching around for a bit online I finally landed on Smitten Kitchen’s Giardiniera recipe for inspiration (of course). I tweaked it a little and think I have found the perfect recipe.
For the brine:
1.25 cups vinegar (I used white balsamic, but you could use regular white)
1.5 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2.5 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. whole peppercorns
Pinch red pepper flake
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, cubed
1 yellow pepper, cubed
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 stalks broccoli, cut into small florets
3 hatch chilis
The brine/pickling liquid is super easy to prepare. Combine all of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it begins boiling, reduce to a low simmer and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Cool the liquid down to room temperature before using it. I transferred mine to a mason jar to cool so I could use my big pot for the next step.
The next step is to prep the veggies! Wash thoroughly and cut all of the veggies into small, bite sized pieces. This takes a while because there are so many veggies but honestly I find this to be a peaceful task.
Next, fill up a big pot with water and bring to a boil. Blanch the veggies for 2-3 minutes, maximum. Drain the veggies well and let them cool for 7-10 minutes.
In a big quart sized mason jar pack all the veggies in as best you can. I was able to fit all but maybe a handful of the veggies (which I then just snacked on). Really push down so you can maximize how much will fit in the jar.
Then take the brine and slowly pour it over the top of the veggies.
Don’t worry about how packed in the veggies are, the brine will fill up every nook and cranny in the jar. Make sure to pour the pickling liquid right up to the very top of the jar. We’re going for very little air leftover in here.
Twist on the lid, give the jar a good shake, and store in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours before eating. I found that a lot of recipes varied on how soon you could eat your giardiniera but I think 24 hours is your best bet (even better of you can rotate the jar upside-down 12 hours in to get even pickling coverage).
I am completely obsessed with this recipe now. I want to pickle everything in sight now that I have found a sweeter brine. Giardiniera is awesome too because it’s really diverse – you can eat it as a side dish, on burgers, sandwiches, pizza, at a party, right out of the jar – the uses are endless. Plus, you can customize with any veggie you like! Enjoy!