Garden in A Jar
Right about now vegetable gardens are bursting with fresh vegetables and at the height of summer Italians make giardiniera, pickled vegetables that are used for antipasti and with meats and poultry. The best vegetables for a giardiniera are green beans, carrots, sweet and hot peppers, small onions, cauliflower, and mushrooms. Make sure they are at the height of freshness and avoid using any that are bruised. Blanched and put up in jars filled with vinegar and oil, the giardiniera makes an attractive still life, a garden in a jar. And unlike the time consuming art of canning, this step can be skipped using the method below which will allow the taste of summer vegetables to be extended just a bit longer.
Pickled Summer Vegetables
4 cups white vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
4 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
12 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cups mixed fresh vegetables of your choice, stemmed, washed and cut into 4-inch long strips.
Combine first eight ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Cool. Stir in the oil and set aside.
Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt; cook each vegetable type separately for 1 minute, scoop out of the water with a slotted spoon and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. When all the vegetables are cooked, arrange them artfully in the jar and pour the vinegar mix over them to cover them. Add sprigs of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme or tarragon.
Place the cap on the jar and refrigerate. The vegetables will keep for 3 to 4 weeks.