Hot Italian Giardiniera to Beat Homesick Blues
I have lived in Chicago for the best three years of my life. I call them the best because Chicago was the place where I came to after being married, it is the place where I became a mother, it is the place where I experienced the ups and downs of being a married woman.
Can you relate to this fact that when we girls are unmarried we are free from any social norms and restrictions, we are free to eat junk food night and day, we have no compulsion to clean the house or cook food – not a single care in the world (except for acnes, I guess!). Because our mothers take care of all of that. We actually live like princesses. And then we get married. My husband is loving and extremely supportive. He doesn’t care much if I keep the house all tidy or give him warm freshly-cooked meal every time. But still it isn’t the way it used to be when I was unmarried. Especially after having a baby to look after, I can never go back to those unmarried days.
Coming back to Chicago, the city will always hold a special place in my heart because it made a woman out of me. There’s so much life and love I have lived here that I might not find in any other city. And when it comes to food, Chicago reminds me of two things – deep dish pizza and giardiniera. So whenever I start missing Chicago badly, giardiniera is what I make to ease up my homesickness.
Homemade Giardiniera Recipe Chicago Style
You Would Need
2 banana peppers – thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper – chopped
1 yellow bell pepper – chopped
1 carrot – chopped
1/2 head cauliflower – stem removed and florets chopped
There are couple of more vegetable you can use, like
4 serranos – thinly sliced (in fact this is the must have for a super hot giardiniera. I didn’t use it as I couldn’t find it in the local market)
1 celery rib – diced
1/4 cup salt
3-4 cloves garlic grated or minced
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper to taste
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup canola oil
For all the dry spices, you don’t have to follow this recipe by the book. Follow your taste buds instead – add little, taste it and see if you want more or less.
How to Go About It
Take all the chopped, sliced and diced vegetables in a large bowl.
Add in the salt and mix till well combined.
Pour enough water to cover the vegetables nicely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 12 hours.
After leaving vegetables in the fridge for little more than overnight, drain the water and thoroughly rinse to remove excess salt.
In another bowl combine garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Add vinegar and stir well. Slowly add oil till everything’s well combined.
Add this vinaigrette to the vegetables and store this mixture into jar or bowl with a lid. Make sure that the jar or the bowl is not too big for the vegetables. If too big than the vinaigrette will not reach to all of the vegetables. Refrigerate for at least 48 hours and by then the giardiniera should be ready. You can also give the jar a good shake once in a while to evenly distribute the vinaigrette.
What I like about giardiniera is the pickled flavor and the crunch of the vegetables. Whereas in many other pickles, vegetables lose their crunch, they retain it in this pickle. The crunch also adds a sense of freshness to the vegetables.
Though Italian by nature, I enjoy it with everything, be it sandwiches or pasta and even my chapattis.