[Edited and expanded by Danette St. Onge on March 28, 2016.]
Giardiniera, or mixed pickled vegetables, is usually referred to in Italy simply as "sottaceti," literally meaning "under vinegar."
These often appear as part of a standard Italian antipasto misto, and they also work very well with boiled meats in the winter months. This recipe will make about 2 1/2 pounds. It would be better to store it in several smaller jars, rather than one large one, because the contents of an open jar loose their freshness.
Italian-American versions, rather than being eaten alone or as part of a mixed antipasto platter, are often used as condiments for other dishes, such as sandwiches and hot dogs, and are often made spicier with the addition of hot chile peppers.
Be sure to use a good-quality vinegar, for the best results.
The vegetables listed in this recipe are the standard, most common ones, but you can add other things to suit your taste, for example: mushrooms, green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, hot peppers, or artichoke hearts -- feel free to experiment with the spices as well - mustard seeds would work well in this recipe.
- 1 quart (1 liter) white wine vinegar (plus more, as needed)
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2-3 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 medium-sized head of cauliflower
- 10 ounces (250 grams) button onions, peeled and soaked in cold water for 1 hour
- 10 ounces (250 grams) carrots, peeled and cut into rounds or sticks
- 10 ounces (250 grams) celery stalks, stripped of filaments and cut into small chunks
- sterile glass jars, with lids that seal well, and (optional, but handy) the little plastic mesh depressors that keep the contents of a jar submerged
Set the vinegar to boil in a large, non-reactive pot (such as stainless steel, glass, or enameled cast iron -- do not use an aluminum or uncoated iron or cast-iron pot to avoid unpleasantly metallic-tasting, not to mention unhealthy, pickles) over high heat with the herbs, spices and salt.
Meanwhile, separate the cauliflower florets.
When the vinegar comes to a boil, add the vegetables, lower the heat, and simmer them for about 15 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked vegetables to the jars and pour the hot vinegar over them. (Have more boiling-hot vinegar handy should that in which you cooked the vegetables not be sufficient.)
Seal the jars tightly and let them cool. Store them in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, and they're ready for use.
Expect them to keep for a year.