Being a foodie, my memories are arranged by foods, and for me the best memory of a season is the fresh vegetables Mother Nature gives us. In winter, I am always wishing for the vibrant tastes and bold colors of my summer garden. And I consider homemade giardiniera my summer scrapbook of those flavors.
Make some extra jars and bring along as a hostess gift for informal dinner parties and picnics. Giardiniera makes the perfect appetizer and can be served with cheeses, crackers, breads, grissini breadsticks, as a side dish for meat or fish dishes or alone.
Of course not everyone has their own garden, but don't fret - your local farm market should have a selection of fresh veggies in season. Locally grown vegetables make the most flavorful giardiniera and one that is reminiscent of summer's flavors.
Here's my favorite recipe and if you want to make some extra jars for gifts, you will also need handmade cards and some twine to tie around the tops of the jars to attach the cards.
4 lbs mixed vegetables in season (carrots, celery, green beans, cauliflower, red and yellow peppers, cipollini onions)
2 cups white vinegar
5 tablespoons sunflower seed oil
3 tablespoons sugar
Cut carrots into small sticks, cut celery into large chunks, cut green beans into large pieces, cut peppers into large chunks, peel cipollini onions and leave whole, use only the florets of the cauliflower that have been detached from the hard stalk. Wash all vegetables and pat dry.
Place vinegar and oil in a large pot with sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Place all vegetables in the pot and let boil for another two minutes, mixing consistently. Remove from heat.
Place in jars that have been sterilized for preserving. Leave about 1/2 inch of room at the top. Seal the jars. Boil water in large pot. Submerge sealed jars in boiling water and let boil for 30 minutes. Remove jars and let cool. Wipe jars dry and label with date. Leave jars unopened for one month before tasting.
Unopened jars of giardiniera can be stored up to six months in a cool, dry place. Once opened, the jars can be stored in refrigerator for one week.