What is Giardiniera?

Malcolm Tatum

Giardiniera is a dish that is created by combining various types of pickled vegetables with vinegar or some type of oil. While the range of vegetables used in giardiniera may vary, the most common selections are olives, pickled peppers, carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini. In some cases, sections of onions and celery are included in the mixture. Even a simple marinated olive salad can be classified as giardiniera.

Giardiniera may be offered alongside a fresh salad.
Giardiniera may be offered alongside a fresh salad.

The preparation of giardiniera is usually involves the use of either olive oil or some type of vinegar that contains added seasonings. It is possible to prepare giardiniera with red or white wine vinegar, as well as adding a range of herbs and spices to plain white vinegar. The object of the use of the vinegar is to compliment the pickling effect on the vegetables while also adding another layer of flavor to the dish.

Herbs and spices can be added to plain white vinegar to make giardiniera.
Herbs and spices can be added to plain white vinegar to make giardiniera.

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While a traditional Italian version of giardiniera will include zucchini, carrots, and cauliflower, it is possible to add all sorts of picked vegetables to the recipe. Sections of bell peppers and onions are popular additions to the basic recipe. Pimentos can also add a dash of color to the final offering. Even such items as asparagus spears, cucumbers, whole green beans, okra pods, and broccoli spears may be added to giardiniera.

Bell peppers are often added to basic giardiniera.
Bell peppers are often added to basic giardiniera.

Serving giardiniera is proper with several different types of foods. The picked vegetable mixture can be offered as an accompaniment to a fresh garden salad. It may also function as a side dish for the entrée. In some situations, giardiniera may be used as a condiment for a meat course. The mixture can be layered on steaks, hamburger patties and even boneless breasts of chicken. Using giardiniera in this fashion adds visual interest to the entrée as well as providing additional flavor to enjoy.

White wine vinegar, which can be used by make giardiniera.
White wine vinegar, which can be used by make giardiniera.

It is possible to purchase giardiniera in many supermarkets and upscale food shops. However, anyone can create giardiniera in his or her own kitchen. All that is required is to select the vegetables desired for the dish, clean them thoroughly, and marinate the vegetables in some type of oil or vinegar. After marinating the vegetables for a day or so, place the vegetables into an airtight glass jar and pour fresh oil or vinegar over the contents. The homemade giardiniera can be stored in the refrigerator and enjoyed as a nutritious snack between meals, or as a means of adding some excitement to lunch or dinner.

Olives are commonly included in giardiniera.
Olives are commonly included in giardiniera.

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Discussion Comments


@titans62 - Growing up with Italian grandparents, I've had my fair share of giardiniera. It was always their tradition that once the garden was done growing, they would make up several quarts of giardiniera using whatever vegetables were left over.

I have found that my favorite combination is cucumbers, onions, celery, and yellow peppers. Like the article says, though, you can use anything. If you like spicy foods, you can even throw in a few jalapenos or some hot sauce. Salt and pepper are a must, and you can use a range of herbs like cloves, bay leaves, or oregano to get the flavor you prefer.

The great thing about giardiniera is that is will last a very long time. I have even seen decorative bottles of what is supposed to look like giardiniera that you can buy to decorate your kitchen. These bottles are popular decor in a lot of Italian restaurants, as well.


@jcraig - The version your grandmother made sounds like it might not be that bad. The traditional recipe in the article calls for zucchini, carrots, and cauliflower, none of which sound like they would be good with vinegar.

I'm always up for trying new things, so maybe next time I go to the market I'll pick up the vegetables to make the traditional recipe as well as jcraig's version.

Has anyone else ever made giardiniera and have any tips or suggestions for how to get the best flavor? I'm also curious whether anyone has tried it with steak or burgers as mentioned.


My wife and I went to a nice Italian restaurant on vacation once, and we tried giardiniera for the first time. Personally, I hated it, but my wife thought the zucchini was delicious.

I think my biggest problem with the dish was that I don't typically care for pickled food in the first place. The vinegar is just too much for me.

For someone who likes pickles or just wants to try something new and interesting, giardiniera is at least work a taste.


My grandma always used to make something that I guess could be considered giardiniera. She didn't call it that, though, she just called it "pickled cucumbers" (kind of redundant, I know).

She didn't make it exactly like the article says, but she basically just cut slices of cucumbers, onions, and sometimes red peppers and put them in vinegar for a few hours and served it as a side dish.

The idea doesn't sound too appetizing at first, but I always thought it was an interesting change every now and then. Obviously, the vinegar makes the vegetables sour, but the taste is okay. I definitely wouldn't want to have her pickled cucumbers every day, though. Your breath could take a while to recover, too.

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