Where your appetite is bigger than your ego


September 2015
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Hot Italian Giardiniera – Chicago Style


Giardiniera is Italian meaning “pickled vegetables” (from Italian “giardino” which means “garden” in English.) Usually when one finds giariniera outside of greater Chicago it means a mix of pickled peppers, cauliflower, carrots and pimiento. Although that has a nice application the vinegar based pickling juice is too tart for other applications. Hence, for things like hot dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches an oil cured mix is preferable. Here’s how I make mine.


  • 1 lb fresh Serrano peppers – 1/8 inch slice
  • 2 carrots – 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 cup cauliflower – 1/4 inch dice
  • 2 stalks celery – 1/8 inch slice
  • 1 cup large green pitted olives – rough chop (Don’t be cheap – spring for the good ones.)
  • 1 cup pickling salt.
  • 2 tbs crushed oregano
  • 1 tbs crushed chili flakes
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • enough extra virgin olive oil to cover


  1. Combine all of the vegetable – except the olives – in a large bowl. Add the whole cup of salt and mix completely so the salt covers the vegetable. Add enough water to just cover the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 12 hours.
  2. Drain the vegetable mixture and rinse very, very well to remove as much salt as possible.
  3. Add chopped olives and remaining spices. Mix well.
  4. Spoon mixture into jars (I use 1 qt canning jars and this usually makes 2 – 3 qts depending on the size of the veggies.) Pour olive oil into jars to cover (top off after 30 minutes when all the air has had a chance to escape from the veggies.)
  5. Put in fridge for at least 48 hours before serving.

This recipe is a rough guideline and you can change it to whatever your tastes are. Some people use green or red peppers and reduce the amount of Serrano peppers for a milder mix. I often will let the Serrano’s ripen to red before using to reduce the heat and keep the flavor.

This mix will keep well about 3 months in the refrigerator. Depending on the quality of the oil it may have a tendency to “gel” when it’s cold. Simply take it out a half hour before serving to restore its consistency.

This goes great on Italian sausages, eggs, spicy tuna salad as well as hot dogs and beef sandwiches.

And, if 2 to 3 quarts is too much for you remember that the holidays are on us soon and this makes an excellent gift for the “spicy” eaters in your life.

Buono Appetito

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4 Responses to “Hot Italian Giardiniera – Chicago Style”

  1. Chi-Town Original says:

    Postin dis recipe witout at lees tree r four diced cloves a garlic is an outrage. Shame on yous. I hereby revoke all yer Chicago privileges till dis injustice is corrected..

  2. cookie says:

    I thank you for your recipe, I have been trying to find one for a long time.. Thanks Cookie O.

  3. dago red. says:

    This recipe is spot on. Garlic does not belong in giardiniera! i’ve seen bogus recipes that use jalapenos of all things..changes the whole flavor profile.

  4. craig says:

    chi-town original. Chicagoans may talk like that but we don’t write the same way the words are spoken. jeez.

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