Summer gives us large quantities of marvelous fresh vegetables, but what about the winter? As the saying goes, necessity is mother of all inventions, so giardiniera was born.
Carrots, celery, cucumbers, cauliflowers, zucchini, bell peppers, all chopped, lightly boiled and preserved in a water, vinegar, white wine and sugar brine, ready to be consumed, flavorsome and crunchy, also during the cold season.
There are many recipes to make giardiniera, because it is a home preparation, usually served with meat, cheeses or cold cuts.
In the North, you’d have found it along fattier meats like cotechino, or as one of the many sides of lesso piemontese.
Today, giardiniera is a gourmet dish many chefs prepare with extravagance, including ingredients like peculiar fruits and vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes and celeriac, mixed with olive oil and apple vinegar brine.
The tradition continues also on the other side of the Atlantic, in Chicago, where the Sicilian community transformed giardiniera in a “local speciality,” spicing it up and serving it with classic roast beef sandwiches.
Whether it is made traditionally, with oil and chillies or with fruits and unusual vegetables, what counts is its texture, crunchy and fresh, so that every mouthful tastes like summer!