16 July 2014
One of the vegetables we've been getting from our CSA is cauliflower. I love cauliflower, but two heads in two weeks is a little much to work through when there are only two people in the house. So what's the solution?
When I came across Laurie of Relishing It's Giardiniera, I knew a batch was in my future. All the vegetables in the land, cut into pieces, doused in spicy brine, and kept nice and crispy in the refrigerator? Yes, please!
The vegetable mixture here is super flexible. I just went through the crisper and grabbed everything that sounded like it would make a good pickle. If you want to use a different mix of vegetables, go for it! If I'd had more space, I would have added in some small green beans (tailed but otherwise whole). Laurie added radishes and celery to hers. What do you have? It will probably be delicious.
Re: brine. Most giardinieras seem to include sugar in their brine. I am not at all into sweet pickles, so I decided to leave out the sugar. This was a wise choice for a lovely, vinegary, spicy pickle. However, if you do prefer a sweeter pickle, you can always choose to add a tablespoon or so of sugar. Give it a try and see what you like.
A note on canning: this is a refrigerator pickle, which means it is not processed for long-term storage. While it may be acidic enough to water-bath can, I am not a food safety or canning authority, so I can't provide accurate info about converting this to a canned pickle. Check the Ball Blue Book or another trusted canning resource if you want to make a canned giardiniera.
Based on Relishing It's Giardiniera
Makes 2 pints or 1 quart.
1/4 head cauliflower
1/2 red or yellow pepper, or several baby peppers
1 jalapeno (or half if it's very spicy -- mine was.)
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 red onion
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp peppercorns
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp pickling salt
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
2 pint jars or 1 quart jar with lids
canning funnel (semi-optional)
chopstick or flexible spatula
Chop your vegetables into pieces. The size is pretty much up to you. I kept my cauliflower and peppers in larger chunks and sliced everything else, but whatever you like should be fine.
Divide your spices evenly between your clean jars. I used pint jars, so I put 1/4 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp oregano, and 1/2 tsp peppercorns in each. To keep the spice distribution fairly equal, add half your garlic and jalapeno slices to each jar as well. If you're using a quart jar, none of this applies, of course.
Pack your mixed vegetables into your jars. I did my best to distribute everything equally, but if you feel like cramming everything in willy-nilly, that's fine too.
Next, make your brine. Add all the brine ingredients to a saucepan with a lid. Bring the brine to a boil and cook, covered, until the salt has dissolved.
Remove the bay leaves and add one to each jar. Pour your hot brine into your jars, using the canning funnel if you so desire. Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top. Use a chopstick to release any air bubbles, working your way around the side of each jar. Top up the brine if needed, lid, and refrigerate overnight.
After 12-24 hours, your giardiniera will be ready. Hooray!
I especially love how the red onion tinges everything a beautiful pink.
What can you do with giardiniera?
- If you are a pickle lover, just eat it as a snack, or as a side with a big deli sandwich.
- Scatter handfuls of it into big green mixed salads.
- Use small pieces as garnish for deviled egg halves.
- In fact, chop up a handful and add it to egg salad or potato salad in place of the typical dill pickle.
- Use it as a garnish for a hearty soup like borscht.
- Puree it with a handful of kalamata olives for a very pickley tapenade.
What pickle experiments are you conducting this summer?