Giardiniera in Italian means “from the garden”, and is one of my favorite veggie condiments. It’s my favorite right along with sauerkraut and any other pickled or fermented item. You can find it on antipasto plates, and on any decent Italian Beef sandwich in Chicago. Turns out there is great debate as to whether Giardiniera veggies should be packed in vinegar (sotto aceti) or oil (sottoli), or even a mixture of both (sottoli aceti maybe?). Not wanting to fan the flames of such a feud, I chose to remain quite neutral on the matter and ferment the veggies instead.
I love to eat this on salads, on any tomato-sauced Italian type dish (like my Chicken Cacciatore, for instance), or just right out of the jar.
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
- 1 bunch organic carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
- 1 head of celery, sliced crosswise
- 6-10 serrano peppers, sliced into coins
- 1 quart filtered water
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
Layer all the veggies into a large, wide mouth glass jar. Dissolve salt in water, and pour over the vegetables. Create some sort of weight that will keep all the veggies submerged under the liquid. I like to use a few big cabbage leaves pressed down across the surface of the jar, then top with a sandwich-sized Ziploc filled with water and sealed. The most important part of this whole recipe is keeping the veggies totally submerged – otherwise you are inviting mold and mold is not good.
Cover the jar with a lid, or a paper towel secured with a rubber band, and let it sit on your counter for at least 3 days. Taste it and see how you like it – the longer you leave it, the tangier the fermented flavor will be (and the more probiotics!). Once you love the way it tastes, pack into jars of a manageable size, making sure there is enough liquid to cover the veggies. Store in the fridge nearly indefinitely – the refrigeration slows the fermentation process nearly to a halt.
A word about what happens during fermentation and what is ok vs not ok:
Good signs of fermentation:
- Liquid becomes cloudy
- White film forms on the surface
Bad signs of fermentation, if you see any of these, you need to toss the whole lot:
- Anything black
- Anything green
- Anything furry