Crisper-cleanout giardiniera

Monday mornings, I try to clean out my fridge to make room for the new week’s share-box contents.

So far this season, I’ve been keeping up fairly well, tossing out just a few items I never got to. Today’s partial casualty, a forgotten handful of snow peas, now two weeks aged and slimy, was hiding under a small head of cauliflower and is now in the compost barrel.

Everything else, though, was in pretty good shape – just bulky. In about 45 minutes between the gym and work, I managed to clear out a whole crisper drawer.

First, I roasted off the last of the Bull’s Blood beets I’d pulled from the garden yesterday. Sliced, drizzled with olive oil, and packed into a small square dish, they’re now taking up way less space in the fridge – and they’re ready to top a few days’ worth of lunch salads.

While the beets were in the oven, I steamed my one remaining head of broccoli from last week, along with about half of that cauliflower that was shrouding the snow peas. Those’ll go into one (or more) of the quick soups I’ve been ginning up in the Vitamix lately.

The rest of the cauliflower florets, plus a single, rogue carrot and four wee Cajun Belle peppers I plucked off a struggling plant this weekend, are now jarred and curing in an improv version of Italian giardiniera.

Carrot, cauliflower, spring onion, garlic, and hot peppers
Carrot, cauliflower, spring onion, garlic, and hot peppers, ready for their briny bath.

Crisper-cleanout giardiniera

This is, I guess, a quick-ish pickle. There’s no cooking of either the veggies or the brine, but you do need to let it all cure for a few days in its oil-based dressing.

Use whatever veggies you’ve got. If I’d had a rib or two of celery, I’d have thrown that in. A regular old bell pepper is nice, too. Radishes? Why not? For a template, I use a recipe that appeared in the New York Times a couple years ago. Here’s what I had on hand today and what I did with it, just so you get a sense of the proportions.

Veggies

  • 1 half head of cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
  • 1 carrot, washed and cut into coins
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly smashed
  • 1 spring onion, sliced

Brine

  • 1 c water
  • 1/8 c pickling salt (or kosher salt)

Dressing

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/2 c vinegar (I use about 75%-25% white vinegar and cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 c oil (I use 50-50 grapeseed and olive oil, but canola or safflower work)
  • black pepper
  • slice of lemon
If only I had an Al's Beef.
If only I had a Johnnie’s Beef.

Preparation

  1. Marinate the veggies. Combine all the vegetables in a glass bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, add the salt to the water, stirring until all the salt is dissolved. Pour the brine over the vegetables. If they’re not fully covered, make a little more brine and add it to the bowl. Cover. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Rinse and pack. Sterilize one quart-size canning jar and lid (I just ran mine through the dishwasher on superhot). Drain the veggies into a colander and rinse them well. Pack them into the clean jar. Put the lemon slice on top.
  3. Make the dressing. In a separate jar, combine the oregano, red pepper flakes, a few grinds of black pepper, celery seeds, vinegar(s), and oil(s). Shake well for at least a minute. Pour over the vegetables. Again, if there’s not enough liquid to cover, top the jar off with a bit more vinegar and oil. Label (with the date) and refrigerate.
  4. Wait patiently. Let the flavors meld for at least three days. Enjoy within 4-6 weeks.

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