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Aug 14, 2011 07:52 AM

Need Giardiniera help from Chicago

The garden is yielding a bounty of vegetables and I'd like to make an "authentic" Giardiniera. Since I'm planning on using it as a topping for Italian Beef Sandwiches, I would really appreciate a Chicago style recipe.

Anyone have a favorite recipe for Hot Mix they could share ?

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  1. Hi PoppiYYZ -

    I'm a Chicagoan through and through. Born here, lived in NJ, ABQ, and Den for a few years each. I've been making my own giardiniera every year for about 6 years now. I can help you out with something I think is better than the shelf stable, cooked, heavy soybean oil giardiniera that I think is most prevalent in beef stand giardiniera outside a few of the big ones - Jay's and Pop's use fresh, crunchy, peppers in a dressing instead if the heavy, cooked soybean oil stuff. By the way, I supply mine to a popular sammich joint in town, and also sell it to a few select people that subscribe to the same csa as I do. Blah, blah blah, ppl really like it. After growing up on beefs with hot, I wanted to make my own for a certain flavor profile: Heat, garlic, and not too much salt. I find the processed giard too salty for my tastes -imagine that- processed food too salty? Anyway, it's easy as pie, and the results are phenomenal, and the best thing about it is, YOU can control the amount of the ingredients to allow for what YOU like and dislike.


    Whatever you have on hand. I've seen recipes calling for bell peppers. That seems horrendous to me. I generally use serranos, habaneros, and jalapenos becaause of their flavor, and their heartiness. Seeds and all. Try your peppers to check their heat levels. I'll also use varying colors of peppers. The red ones are usually sweeter, more ripe, and they add color. Use a ratio of peppers to other ingredients that makes sense to YOU for heat level, and flavor. Chop the peppers according how YOU'D like them. I prefer a finer chop than most processed giardinieras for ease of distribution on a sammich.

    Cauliflower. for my standard ratio, I'll use about 3 pepper to one califlower. Again, use more or less (or none. this is giardiniera how YOU want it, not other ppl.) Chop it how YOU want it.

    Celery: I'm not a huge fan of celery, so I ease off of it compared to most processed stuff. I'll go about 1 pepper to 1/8 celery.

    Carrot - same ratio as the celery.

    Chopped garlic - I would suggest using the pre-processed chopped, jarred garlic to avoid any botulism concerns with this recipe. I only use that stuff. Not worth the risk, imo. for every pint of giard, I'm gonna guess I use about 1/8th of a cup of chopped garlic.

    Other needs:


    plain old white vinegar

    dried basil, oregano.

    Extra virgin olive oil.

    Chop your veggies to a coarseness that you'd like. I cuisinart the peppers, and carrots. Cauliflower and celery, I do by hand.

    Prepare a salt water solution that's about the same salinity as ocean water. Cover your chopped veggies with this solution, add your dried basil and oregano, and let the mixture sit overnight in the fridge.

    Next day:

    Drain the mixture, and quickly rinse about half of it with fresh water to remove some of the salinity. return the mixed portion to the non rinsed portion, and mix it. Add the garlic from the jar - feel free to add in any of the garlic juice from the jar. Add in vinegar. Ratio of veggie mixture to vinegar 3 to 1. 3 parts veggies to one part vinegar.

    Sanitize your jars.

    Fill your jars 2/3rds full of the veggie/vinegar mixture, and fill the rest of the way with evoo.

    Put the jars IN THE FRIDGE. THIS IS NOT SHELF STABLE. IT NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED AT ALL TIMES. Do not even think about opening a jar to taste it for two weeks. The flavors need to meld. The garlic needs to perfume everything, and the capsacin needs to permeate. TWO WEEKS.

    A reminder - this needs to be refrigerated. Also, it is not the heavy oiled, cooked, giardiniera that you will fine at most beef stands, and on the grocery store shelves. My giard will be fresh, crunchy, garlicky, and not as salty as the processed stuff. IMO, far better (by a landslide,) and much more complimentary to a standard beef, instead of making it a salt bomb.

    23 Replies
    1. re: gordeaux

      Awesome G,

      Thank you very much. I grown everything myself except the celery looks like it will be a bust. Great mix of peppers this year including Jalapeno, Serrano, screaming hot Banana, Cayenne, Bird, and even Sandias (the Famous New Mexico variety) ! I love the heat of Habanero but don't like the flavor, so I'll zip things up with a blend of hot peppers.

      Can't wait to try a batch, the two week wait will be excruciating...

      1. re: PoppiYYZ

        The sandias, imo, might not work well - unless you plan on roasting them first.

      2. re: gordeaux

        Hey gordeaux,

        Your recipe rocks on !! This years batch of giardiniera is the best yet ! The pepper crop this year has been amazing.

        Thanks again.

        1. re: PoppiYYZ

          poppy, i am wicked psyched that you and gordeaux have posted this thread because i want to make this but keep down the salt as much as possible. (i know, kinda hard like impossible to have pickles w/o salt. as in, plse may i have some eggs benedict without eggs.) Just one question- your most recent post, 9/19/2013 , refers to WHICH recipe- gordeaux's of august 14, 2011 - or yours of oct 7, 2011? thx much.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            One CAN make "preserved" foods without all the salt of commercial products ! Nothing better than eating your own veggies in the middle of winter !!

            We are using the detailed recipe from Oct 7, 2011 which is just a slightly tweaked version of gordeaux's with measurements to help others make it.

            As I mentioned, rinse the veggies well after the overnight soaking to reduce salt and be sure to store in refrigerator when done. Make a small batch, it will be great, then adjust next batches to your personal preferences (make it hotter, drop some veggies that aren't your favs, add others veggies, more olives, adjust herbs, ...).

            Good luck. Let us know how it turns out !

            1. re: PoppiYYZ

              that's what i thought. terrific. i think you 2 should be wicked proud-- looks like you made a lot of CHs happy with this!

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Hey Chef, good to see you here! I've often wonder how you are doing and what you are up to :)

                1. re: herby

                  hi herby, nice to see you too! i mostly post on the boston board but now that it's winter i've been cooking madly and hope to learn and share more on CH's home cooking thread now! How 'bout you?

                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    I am good :) Back to 9-5 so the time is short but I try to participate when I can. Still make your eggplant dish and think of you with gratitude :)

                    1. re: herby

                      Hi herby,

                      Can't leave us hanging like that ! Can you or gordeaux post a link to the eggplant dish ? Always looking for eggplant ideas when they are coming in hard in the summer.

                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        Poppi, Opinionatedchef shared her eggplant appertiser recipe with me a couple of years ago and it is fabulous. I reduced the quantity but changed nothing.

                        Here is the link:

                        1. re: herby

                          I assume it is the Todd English Caponata recipe. Looks great.

                          Thank you AND Opinionatedchef very much.

                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                            It is and very-very tasty. I love eggplant and have many recipes - this one is among my most favourite. Hope you make it and let us know how you like it :)

                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                              hmmm, thx to todd english! i wish i could say i tweaked it enough to make the recipe my own, but no, i just follow it verbatim (and boy is that rare for me. Someone should yell out, "Notary Public! Notary Public!" )

                              Herbie and poppy, I also have a Barbara Tropp recipe for Hunan Eggplant that i used to serve cold w/ crostini . one of my fav memories is of a haggle of button down bankers crowded around this stationary hors d'oeuvre and CHOWing down like no tomorrow!! anyway, happy to share if you want it. I LOVE eggplant; i just wish it had nutritional value, but it's really just alot of water.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I beg to dissagree - check this out

                                All veggies and fruit contain lots of water which is good for us since we are 50% water :) And most nutrients they contain are very easy to digest.

                                I would love another eggplant recipe from you :)

                                1. re: herby

                                  HERBIE,send me your email via my member pg so I can find that hunan dish for you. in the meantime, here are 2 more:

                                  Savoir Faire Recipe

                                  SMOKED EGGPLANT FILO FILLING

                                  5.2 lb Eggplant

                                  1 C Red Peppers

                                  4-5 T Basil Puree

                                  11 ½ oz Goat Cheese

                                  3 T Ground Parmesan

                                  ½ C Sundried Tomato Puree (best made by poaching Italian, not U.S. sundried tomatoes


                                  12 oz can + 5-6 T Tomato Paste

                                  1/3 C Toasted Pine Nuts

                                  Salt and Pepper to taste

                                  1 lb Butter

                                  2 bxs Phyllo Dough

                                  Blacken eggplant and red peppers by turning over a direct flame burner. Poke holes in eggplant. Put eggplant in 400 degree oven and bake until soft and collapses when pressed. Put blackened red peppers in paper bag to steam 10 minutes. Remove skins and chop flesh finely. Scoop eggplant pulp out of skins. Mash with a fork. Add chevre and tomato paste and sundried tomato puree. Mix until combined. Add remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings. Melt butter. Take 2 sheets of phyllo dough butter bottom sheet and lightly butter top sheet. Cut into 8 strips. Put approx. 1 tsp of filling in and fold up like a flag to make a triangle. Freeze remaining mixture in 2 cups.

                                  Makes 9 cups

                                  2 bxs of filo uses approx 3 cups filling. Makes approx. 200 filos.
                                  You can also add cream and eggs to some of this to make the filling for a smoked eggplant quiche.

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    herbie- i found it online:


                                    very addictive! i like it with sesame crostini

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      Many thank, OC! Great recipes and now all are in my pepperplate to be made in not too distant future :)

                                      1. re: herby

                                        you bet, herby. what's a pepperplate?

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                          It is a web-based recipe storage system - super easy to use. Check it out:

                2. re: PoppiYYZ

                  I've been trying to figure out which "October 7, 2011" recipe you are talking about. Are you able to help me out with it? Just moved back to CA from Chicago, and am CRAVING a D'Amato's sandwich. Trying to make my own. :)

                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                      Yup. That recipe has been made many times and turns out fantastic. One of the (if not THE) best things we put up.

                      This years "garden harvest" batch is in the fridge. Even made a batch with grocery store bought ingredients one winter when we ran out, all great.

          2. Update :

            The Giardiniera turned out amazing ! Crispier, fresher, and each piece retains some of it's individual flavour even though the flavours have melded together some. Way better than any store bought.

            First batch was a little too salty (but still good) so the second batch was rinsed just a little more. It is a huge hit and also goes great as a side pickle with almost any meal.

            Thanks for the help gordeaux.

            12 Replies
            1. re: PoppiYYZ

              Would like to try this. Would it be possible for you to post the actual recipe here.
              Like how much salt,tsp,tbs,cup,so on.

              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                Good Work!
                Garlic Bread
                toss it in the pan you are about to toss your pasta with
                Just about any sammich
                hot dogs
                grilled cheese

                1. re: gordeaux

                  Ha ha ! You forgot to mention scooping straight into your mouth ! It is really good stuff, here is the detailed formulation :

                  "Chicago" Style Hot Italian Giardiniera


                  2 green peppers, diced
                  2 red peppers, diced
                  3/4 cup hot peppers, diced (jalepeno, banana, and some chili peppers), more if you like hot
                  1 celery stalk, diced
                  1 medium carrot, diced
                  1 small white onion, diced
                  1/2 cup fresh cauliflower florets, cut up small
                  1/2 cup sea salt
                  water to cover

                  2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
                  1 tablespoon dried oregano
                  1/2 tablespoon dried basil (optional but I like it)
                  1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
                  1/2 teaspoon black pepper
                  8 large good quality pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
                  1 cup white vinegar
                  1 cup olive oil


                  1. Place into a bowl the green and red peppers, jalapenos, celery, carrots, onion, and cauliflower. Stir in salt, and fill with enough cold water to cover. Place plastic wrap over the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.

                  2. The next day, drain salty water, and rinse vegetables. In a bowl, mix together garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and olives. Pour in vinegar and olive oil, and mix well. Combine with vegetable mixture, spoon in sterilized jars, and refrigerate at least 7 days before using (sorry I couldn't wait longer). Jars MUST be kept in refrigerator.

                  Makes five 250mL jars.

                  1. re: PoppiYYZ

                    Timely recipe for me. Thanks! For a few weeks now, I've been pickling some serrano chiles that I grew this year. Soon the cauliflower will be at my farmer's market, and I'm going to make Giardineira for the first time.

                      1. re: PoppiYYZ

                        Damn.......been out of Chicago for years looked and looked for a good Giardiniera. even ordered it online ......of course that was great anyhoo made this recipe and i will tell you it is real Chicago stuff

                        1. re: lestadt

                          Tweak the recipe to your preference. Once you have it dialed in to your taste, you'll never buy jarred stuff again.

                          This has become a staple in our household. Summer batches made with veggies from the garden, winter batches with store bought veggies. It's all good, but the summer batch is a touch better due to the garden fresh ingredients.

                          Had it last night along with a slow roasted pork shoulder. Fan-fricken-tastic. Interestingly, still haven't made an Italian beef sandwich using it, which was my original intention. We just eat it with everything.

                        2. re: PoppiYYZ

                          Just checking if 1/2 cup cauliflower for 5 cups of giardiniera is not a mistake.

                          1. re: herby

                            Yup, in very small pieces. I'd suggest having everything diced small in similar sizes, like a chunky relish. Bigger size pieces will also work if you prefer.

                            It is mostly peppers with olives and other veggies, but it is totally up to you. Certainly add more cauliflower and cut back on other things as you like.

                            Try a batch and adjust as you like.

                            1. re: PoppiYYZ

                              Thank you! I'll try 1/2 recipe as you wrote and see if I want to change it at all and how. I usually buy jarred stuff and imagine how much better from scratch is going to be :)

                              1. re: herby

                                Herby, the thing about making it THIS way from scratch is:
                                1. You can add what YOU like, and leave out what you don't like.

                                2.The stuff you buy in jars is cooked,and it's mostly made with heavy soybean oil. The stuff you make will be fresh tasting and lighter and crunchy.

                                Example: I don't say this to be mean at all, but PoppiYYZ has made their version and they're happy with it containing red/green bell peppers. Not in a zillion years would you find bell peppers in Chicago Giardiniera by any of the major brands. Again,I'm not pointing that out to be negative -quite the contrary, actually. You can make it how YOU want it. Maybe you want more carrot, maybe you want green olives, maybe you want no garlic - whatever. Just remember, root vegetables in an anaerobic environment above a certain temp is a breeding ground for botulism spores. This is supposed to be kept in the fridge. Most of the storebought versions are shelf stable (before opening,) and usually do not contain garlic, and they are cooked. Love this stuff to death. PoppiYYZ, glad you are still loving it!

                                1. re: gordeaux

                                  Got you and thank you for this! I'll experiment and hopefully find the variation that thrills me.

                    1. Hey gordeaux !

                      We are famous !!


                      No joking, but we ate Giardiniera with grilled lamb chops and a Greek salad with homemade sourdough croutons for dinner tonight. Amazing !