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Giardiniera (or, angel relish)

May 6, 2010

I’m not 100% willing to commit to this statement yet, but giardiniera just might be the best condiment in the history of ever. It’s crunchy, spicy, oily, salty and probably has antioxidants and omega-somethings because it’s basically all vegetables, right? There is nothing that is not improved with the addition of giardiniera, unless if you hate flavor and happiness.

I was inspired to make my own last fall after having some homemade giardiniera at a Sunday Dinner Club feast (recipe halfway down page). This was all kinds of delicious, but it was more of a tasty antipasto than the fiery italian-beef sidekick that I crave (actually, I would even posit that Italian beef plays second fiddle to the giardiniera in that particular sammich). Apparently, “giardiniera” just means “woman gardener” in Italian, and it’s a very Chicagoan confection. Wake up world–if you’re not onto this stuff, you need to be pronto.

After a quick trip to the google, I found a nice roadmap to make my own at the Paupered Chef. You can read his directions, or I’ll sloppily sum it up here.

For the veggies, I used a cauliflower, one red bell pepper, one anaheim pepper, six serrano chilis, a couple carrots, a celery stalk, and green olives.

Dice em all up to somewhat uniform size, breaking cauliflower florets into bits and thinly slicing the serranos. Everything into a bowl, and add a half cup of salt and cover with water. Cover and let the veggies brine for a day or so in the fridge.

Next day, dump out the brine water and rinse the veggies if you don’t want it too salty. Next, make the pickling liquid with a few cloves of minced garlic, 3 teaspoons or so of oregano, and a couple teaspoons of red pepper flakes. Next time I might add some fennel, too, for a neat counterpoint. Smash that all together until it’s a paste, then add a cup of vinegar. I used unfiltered apple cider vinegar, but in retrospect it might have been a little too assertive. Maybe just plain old white next time. Slowly whisk in a cup of oil (canola or grapeseed or something else lightly flavored) until you get a light emulsification.

And that’s about it. Dump the veggies into however many jars it takes, and add the pickling liquid just to cover. You probably should let it sit in the fridge for a few days to really come together, but if you’re me you’ll be eating it by the spoonful at this point. Right then the non-serrano veggies hadn’t yet mastered the art of being hot from their pepper neighbors, but they were learning and had some decent aftermarket heat, and of course they tasted terrific. If you get a bite with a serrano, though, the spice really picks up with a much fresher flavor than the giardiniera you get at the store, and since nothing was cooked the crunch is fantastic. I’m hoping that the heat will spread out a bit as it sits, but at the rate I’m going through this stuff there might not be time for that.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Brad Hooper permalink
    May 27, 2010 7:01 pm

    Nope. Corn relish is the best condiment ever.

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