World Famous Giardiniera Recipe

I just picked the last serrano pepper from my garden and I am looking forward to making my world famous giardiniera recipe. This year I grew many types of peppers so that I could make fresh giardiniera. Giardiniera is a mixture of different fresh vegetables pickled in a vinegar/oil mixture.  Many people put it on their salads or serve it as an antipasto. In fact, if you have ever been to New Orleans and had the Muffuletta sandwich, the olive relish on the sandwich is a type of giardiniera. What I especially love about giardiniera is that it is gluten-free so I can enjoy my favorite condiment at any time.

In Chicago, giardiniera is used more as a relish. You can find giardiniera either mild or hot but, if you are a Chicagoan, you know we love our giardiniera hot, hot, hot—especially over Italian beef. My mouth is actually watering right now thinking about all its uses. I love it on pizza (Lou Malnati’s has a fantastic gluten-free pizza with a crispy thin crust), chicken dishes, marinara sauce, really just about any dish that needs a little kick. In fact, I have even made pulled pork in my crock pot using this giardiniera as the liquid.

Here is my recipe. The good news is that you can substitute various peppers to make your version as mild or hot as you would like. Please let me know how you like it.


  • 8 to 12 serrano peppers or 6 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cauliflower head, cut into florets
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup stuffed pimento green olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes for more “heat”
  • 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil or canola oil (I like olive oil)


In a large non-reactive bowl, add all the peppers, celery, carrot, onion. and cauliflower florets. Stir in salt and add enough water to cover vegetables. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 12 hours. After 12 hours, drain and rinse vegetables to remove excess salt. Set bowl aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds, and ground pepper. Pour in vinegar and whisk in olive oil until combined. Add this to the vegetable mixture, add in the chopped olives and toss well. You can either cover this and refrigerate  or place the vegetable mixture into jars making sure the vegetables are covered by the oil/vinegar blend.  This recipe is good at 48 hours, however, the longer you let it ferment in the fridge the better the flavors are. We try to wait a week before we eat it.

You can use a combination of peppers such as serrano, hot red cherry, banana, and jalapeno depending on what you like. I like the different color peppers because they look great in a jar. Remember, when you buy your peppers at the grocery store, make sure you get the freshest peppers possible.

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  • Is this recipe suitable for canning?

  • In reply to mefoxlaw:

    I would think so. The only problem would be that the vegetables would get mushy. Ours never lasts that long.

  • In reply to mefoxlaw:

    Absolutely, but you don't have to. Canning can make the vegetables a bit mushy.

  • fb_avatar

    Ya know thats kinda an odd question for a recipe like this. I have bought Scala's out of chicago and had it sit for 2 years and it was fine on the counter. Could it be canned? absolutely !!! Would I can it? No I would not. I have some sitting in my fridge that the olive oil is hard on the top I pull it out and let it warm up enough for the olive oil to become liquid again and its over 4 months old and tastes wonderful. But I digress, I have not found a recipe out there yet that match's Scala's !!!

  • In reply to Brian Stout:

    Brian, what I like about this recipe is that it only improves with age. I have loved it on week 2 and month 3. Give it a try, let me know what you think.

  • Thanks for the info. I'm in canning mode so that's where my mind is right now. But you're right, with that much salt, oil and vinegar, it should last pretty much indefinitely in the fridge (or at least until it's all consumed!).''

    I am definitely making it this weekend!

  • One more question - last time I was in Chicago years ago, I had one restaurant's house-made giardiniera and it had beans in it. They were either lupini or roman beans but I can't remember (even though they look and taste so different). I haven't seen any recipes that use beans, so I was wondering if that was an oddity, or if you think it would work well in a giardiniera? Thanks again!

  • In reply to mefoxlaw:

    Sorry it took so long to reply, I was out of town. I have never had one with beans in it so this must be their twist on it.

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    I am a nurse practitioner who not only treats patients, but has had chronic illnesses including cancer so I understand how frustrating medicine can be. But through all this, I have never lost my sense of humor and my ability to make people laugh. I love to cook, and since becoming gluten-free a year ago, I have recipes for everyone's tastes whether it be healthy, decadent, vegetarian, or gluten-free. My philosophy is all about health, food, laughter and life!

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