Born in the farmer families out of a commitment to not waste the summer bounty, and a need to prevent periods of food scarcity, giardiniera (“pickled vegetable mix”) is the unsung hero of Italian culinary heritage. A creation that encloses the flavors of summer, and can be savored months down the line.
This symphony of summer flavors carefully sealed within its glass confines, is an Italian pantry staple, and, as with many humble, century-old recipes, each and every family has its own specific spin to it. Today we want to share the recipe that Rita has perfected over the years, and which now manages to brighten up even the grayest of winter days.
PS: In the Ruffoni family, Rita's cherished antipasto di verdure takes center stage as an appetizer: on its own, paired with a selection of cheeses, or generously spread over crunchy bruschette. However, the possibilities are endless: add it to your omelets, use it for delicious sandwiches or let your imagination run wild!
Rita’s pickled vegetable appetizer (giardiniera)
Appetizers, Vegetarian friendly,
13 lbs / 6 kg tomatoes
1 lb / 500 g pearl onions
1 lb / 500 g green beans
1 lb / 500 g carrots
1 lb / 500 g cauliflower
1 lb / 500 g bell peppers
1 lb / 500 g celery
2 grated nutmegs
3 cups / 800 ml white vinegar
3 cups / 800 ml EVO oil
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp salt
Olives to taste
Preserved artichoke hearts to taste
1 lb / 500 g tuna packed in EVO oil [optional]
In a capacious Stockpot, cook the tomatoes over low heat for 4 hours, then turn off the flame and let them cool down. Puree with a food mill, and sieve.
Meanwhile, dice all the vegetables, so they are about 1.5cm or 0.5inches.
Pour the tomato sauce obtained back into a Stockpot, add the pearl onions, green beans, EVO oil and 4 teaspoons of sugar and bring to a simmer over low heat.
After 15 minutes, add the celery, vinegar, and salt. Continue to simmer over low heat.
Add the remaining vegetables at intervals of about 15 minutes each, in the following order: carrots, cauliflower, peppers. Lastly, add the grated nutmeg and continue to simmer for about 1 hour longer.
Turn off the flame and add 500 g of tuna (if using), olives, and artichoke hearts to taste.
When the giardiniera is ready, you can enjoy it immediately, or pour it into sterilized glass jars, making sure that they are sealed well.
With the jars ready, it's time to sterilize them again so they can keep fresh and tasty all winter.
To do this:
• Place the sealed jars in a clean large Stockpot.
• Fill the pot with cold water, ensuring all the jars are fully covered.
• Bring it to a boil and let it boil for about an hour.
• After an hour, turn off the heat and allow the jars to cool along with the boiling water.
• Once completely cooled, place the jars upside down on a kitchen linen and leave them in this position for 24 hours.
• After 24 hours, your appetizer jars are ready to be stored throughout the winter!
In the first few minutes after filling the jars with the hot vegetable mix, you might hear small popping sounds. These pops indicate that the jar has been successfully sealed!