Vegetables in Vinegar

(“Giardiniera” – “Sutt’acitu”)

 


The Giardiniera is made of pickled vegetables; the pickling makes it possible to preserve vegetables in season when they are abundant and conserve them for some time. It is a somewhat complicated proceeding because it requires the preparation of the pickling liquid and then the cooking of all vegetables in separate boiling water and when cooked transferring it into a large bowl of ice and water to stop the cooking and finally, after draining and patting dry, mixing the vegetables with the pickling liquid.
The pickling liquid made with a vinegar mixture, has to be well acidulated in order to preserve the vegetables and because it tastes very vinegary, the Giardiniera was never one of my preferred side dish.
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.
In 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 that was much lower 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, very easy to prepare and very pleasing to your palate.

 

 

                        

 

The Pickling Liquid

  • 12 cups of water
  • 4 cups of distilled white vinegar
  • tablespoon of salt
  • bay leaves

The Vegetables

  • 1 cauliflower (over 2 lb.) separate head into florets, bite size, and wash
  • celery ribs, wash well and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • 5 carrots peeled and cut into ¼ inch slices, to make 3 cups
  • oz . pearl onions, peeled. Or use an 8 oz jar of large cocktail onions
  • 1 box frozen artichokes heart, defrosted and cut in half or in quarts

You can add any other vegetable, like mushrooms, eggplants, etc

Also secure an prepare

  • 4 oz. jar of Tuscan sweet peperoncini, drained of their brine. Buy only imported from Italy or omit
  • 8 oz. Sicilian style green olives in brine, pitted
  • 12 oz. oil cured black olives, pitted

The Condiment

  • 1½ cup canola oil
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup distilled white vinegar
  • few pinches of hot red pepper flakes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • taste for salt and add if needed

Equipment Needed

  • 1 stainless steel 6 or 8 qt sauce pot
  • stainless steel  3 quarts saucepan
  • slotted spoon
  • 1 large bowl
  • glass or plastic containers to storage the marinated vegetables

 

PREPARATION

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 that 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 dente and not overcooked.
When cauliflower is done, use a slatted spoon to transfer cooked vegetables to a big bowl.
In the same water, cook the celery for 6 minutes and in the same manner cook artichokes for 1 minute.
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 cook 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 3 minutes.  
In the small pot add the yellow pepper and follow with red pepper, cooking each for 4 minutes.
When you have all cooked vegetables in the bowl, add a jar of peperoncini, olives and mix. 
Taste for salt and if you like a more pungent Giardiniera add some more vinegar.
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 side dish. 
It will keep refrigerated for about a month.