What Is Giardiniera?

It’s happened all too many times. You’re eating a dish that’s almost perfect, save for one problem: It simply isn’t pickle-y enough. Many solutions to this fiasco spring to mind, but before you start revving up a running start for a dive into a pickle barrel, hear us out. The answer may be in a humble jar of delicious Italian giardiniera. This blend of pickled vegetables is the perfect addition to your sandwich, antipasto plate, or salad, and provides a vibrant, briny kick to every bite you take. However, as appetizing as it is, it isn’t something most people come across every day. Allow us to explore this tangy relish-esque topping a little more in depth, and find out the answer to the question: What is giardiniera?

What is giardiniera?

Giardiniera translates to gardener or from the garden, which makes sense because it’s essentially a garden’s worth of vegetables all pickled together in one jar. It’s used as a condiment as well as a stand alone snack. 

What is in giardiniera?

Any iteration of giardiniera is jam-packed with an array of pickled vegetables. The classic Italian version is a mix of vegetables such as bell peppers, celery, carrots, and cauliflower, all pickled in vinegar. It’s often served as an accoutrement on antipasto platters—but you can also toss it into pasta or on a sandwich. Chicago-style is made with a similar mix of chopped veggies along with chile peppers. 

What is hot giardiniera?

Chicago-style giardiniera is often referred to as “hot giardiniera” because it has a spicier flavor profile than the classic Italian giardiniera. Made with serrano pepper, celery, red bell pepper, cauliflower, chili flakes, carrots, and olives, it is not only pickled but also marinated in olive oil. Chicago-style hot giardiniera is often used to top beef sandwiches, subs, or pizza. 

How to pronounce giardiniera properly?

The accurate pronunciation of giardiniera is “jiar-deen-ehr-uh.” Doing it with a stereotypical Italian accent is not necessarily encouraged, but it’s difficult not to slip into one when attempting. Proceed with caution! 

What does giardiniera taste like?

While both classic Italian giardiniera and Chicago-style giardiniera taste tangy and pickled, the actual vegetables themselves also tend to contribute to the flavor of various giardiniera. Bell peppers add a slightly sweet note, carrots lend an earthy flavor, and celery offers a vegetal touch. 

Keeping a jar of giardiniera nearby to amp up the flavor of your dishes is always a smart idea. So, pick up some the next time you’re out at the store and save yourself the trouble of pickling at barrelful home! 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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