Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Your garden or mine?

Well, clearly yours, as mine is
a) only a stretch of grass to be used for rugby in winter and cricket in summer, and
b) right at the moment even less inviting, as the neighbours can walk straight into it, because yet another couple of fence panels have been blown over.

So, hopefully, you are, what I am not: a giardiniera. -- The
Italian word 'giardiniera' is derived from the root giardino ("garden"), and literally translates to "female gardener."


And this is what has been said about the condiment called giardiniera , which I mentioned in my last post:
Giardinera is a wonderful Italian sandwich topping made from olives, cauliflower, carrots and peppers packed in a mixture of oil and vinegar (mostly oil.) It can be mild or hot. Sometimes you can find it chopped and it may be called muffalata. (1)
This is what most Italians think of when they hear the words Sotto Aceti, a collection of mixed pickled vegetables. The standard Italian antipasto misto wouldn't be quite right without these, and they also work very well with boiled meats in the winter months.
... For many Italian beef eaters in Chicago, a lode [sic] of giardiniera atop the beef is as essential as the beef itself. ... giardiniera should not be mild!
This Italian condiment is a Chicago staple. It’s a mixture of pickled vegetables and hot peppers that’s marinated in olive oil and vinegar. Refrigerated, it’s [sic] shelf life is practically unlimited. It’s the best on an Italian beef sandwich but I put it on everything from toast to pasta.

My recipe, once again,
is an amalgamation of many. Googling and comparing 7 recipes, the following standard ingredients were revealed and ranked in descending order:

Olive oil: 7/7

Onions*: 7/7

Olives: 4/7

Cauliflower: 6/7

Carrots: 6/7

Peppers: 6/7

Vinegar: 5/7

Garlic: 5/7

Peppercorns: 4/7

Oregano: 4/7

Salt: 3/7

Jalapenos: 2/7

Red pepper flakes: 2/7

Lemon juice/caper brine: 1/7

* Pickling/yellow/red

Other possible vegetables include baby mushrooms, celery, green beans, zucchini, baby cucumbers, or artichoke hearts. It's clearly a recipe for experimentation.

Giardiniera (G&T recipe #3)

1 tbsp green olives
½ cup cauliflower florets
1 carrot
1 red pepper

1 green pepper
½ onion
½ zucchini
1 stick celery
1 green hot chilli
1 cup white vinegar
Blitzed vegetables and
1 bay leaf
tsp pepper corns
1 tbsp dried oregano

Boil for 15 minutes Add:
2 tbsp of chopped capers
1 tsp of dried chillies and

1 tsp salt
1/3 cup of olive oil

Fill into sterilised glass jars. Don't put it all into one big jar, you'll be better off using several smaller jars because the contents of an open jar lose their freshness. As I wanted to keep the mix indefinitely, I topped them up with more vinegar, so that everything was well covered. Most recipes will advise you to leave the giardiniera to mature for 48 hours to 1 week before using.
Mine is pretty vinegary, which I love, but some people would probably be happier with less vinegar and more oil.

PanNan on Recipezaar recommends giardiniera with cream cheese on a cracker. I tried it with mine but found it's too vinegary for that.

PS: The photograph of the flowers along the garden path was taken in Monet's Garden.

(1) I mentioned it as 'muffuletta' here (Feb, 17th) - see more here about the bread, salad and sandwich, and the endless spelling variations.

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