Vegetables in Vinegar
Giardiniera – Sutt’acitu
is made of pickled
vegetables. The pickling makes it possible to preserve vegetables when they are in season and abundant and conserve
them for some other time. It is a somewhat complicated process because it requires the preparation of the pickling
liquid and then the cooking of all vegetables in separate boiling water, which when cooked, must be transferred
into a large bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking and only then, after draining and patting dry, can the two
separate parts be combined.
The pickling liquid, made
with a vinegar mixture, has to be well acidulated in order to preserve the vegetables. Because it tastes very
vinegary, the giardiniera was
never one of my preferred side dishes.
When I was cooking in our Focacceria, a Sicilian eating house, we
made the giardiniera in the traditional way; it was
colorful and showy and we used it as a garnish to decorate most dishes. I noticed that most of the time,
people would not eat the giardiniera and to my despair, I knew that
most of our customers disliked the strong vinegary taste.
one of my trips to Sicily, as a guest for lunch in a farmhouse, it was
served i sutt’acitu, pickled vegetables, among a variety of cheeses,
salami, salads, herrings, etc. The pickled vegetables looked like the ones I was making back home except for an
abundance of green and black olives and the degree of sourness; it was much less acidic and very agreeable. I
asked a lot of questions and received a few hints on how to make it, and when I returned to the States, I came
up with this version of giardiniera. It is very easy to prepare and
very pleasing to your palate.
distilled white vinegar
Tablespoon of salt
cauliflower (over 2 lb), head separated into bite-sized florets and washed
ribs, washed well and cut into 1-inch pieces
bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch pieces
yellow bell pepper, sliced into ½-inch pieces
carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices to make 3 cups
pearl onions peeled (or use an 8 oz jar of large cocktail onions)
· 1 box frozen
artichokes heart, defrosted and cut in half or into quarters
You can add any other vegetable, like mushrooms, eggplants,
Also secure and prepare
jar of Tuscan sweet peperoncini, drained of their brine (imported from Italy)
Sicilian style green olives in brine, pitted
oil cured black olives, pitted
extra virgin olive oil
distilled white vinegar
pinches of hot red pepper flakes
for salt and add if needed
stainless steel 6- or 8-quart sauce pot
Stainless steel 3-quart saucepan
or plastic containers to storage the marinated vegetables
In the 8 quart pot, mix all ingredients for the pickling
liquid. Transfer 2 cups of it to the small saucepan and bring to a boil.
In a large bowl, combine the condiments except for the bay leaves,
which you will add last.
Add cauliflower florets to the boiling liquid in
the large pot, bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until al
When cauliflower is done, use a slatted spoon to transfer cooked
vegetables to a big bowl.
the same water, cook the celery for 6 minutes, and in the same manner, cook artichokes for 1
If you add other vegetables, cook for 3 to 6 minutes, until al dente. Use
your judgment and taste the vegetables to make sure they are properly cooked.
Cook fresh pearl onions for 4 minutes. You can substitute pearl onions for small red onions cut into quarters and
cooked for 4 minutes. Boil onions last.
Bring the small saucepan to a boil, add carrots and cook for 6 minutes. If using tiny baby carrots, reduce time to
In the small pot add the yellow pepper and
follow with red pepper, cooking each for 4 minutes.
When you have all the cooked vegetables in the bowl, mix in a jar of peperoncini and the
Taste for salt, and if you like a more
pungent giardiniera, add some more
Mix in bay leaves last and make sure the vegetables are submerged,
adding some of the pickling liquid if necessary. Store in a plastic or glass containers. Serve as antipasto
or a side dish. It will keep refrigerated for about a