Pickle Du Jour: Giardiniera

I try not to eat stuff out of the jar when people are around. That said, I'm eating out of the jar pretty frequently, especially when it's hot and the nice cold fridge air combined with the nice cold whatever I'm eating provides such pleasant relief. You know what they say about hot weather and astringent foods? I've been putting away jars of giardiniera, an Italian pickled vegetable medley, like it's my job.

This stuff is the secret weapon I use on food a sane person normally wouldn't eat on a hot day, like a big fat Italian beef sandwich. As you'll see in that linked story, giardiniera cuts through that fatty beef like a a hot knife through butter. But even if you're not thumbing your nose at nature's suggestion that maybe you lighten up on heavy food during heat waves, this condiment has plenty of other uses.

First, pasta primavera salad. Giardiniera contains a lot of the same veggies you find in pasta primavera — carrots, peppers, cauliflower, onions, zucchini — with a couple of veggies you find in pasta salads, like celery and olives. Roughly chop about a cup of it and toss with half a box of pasta and the minced fresh herb of your choice, along with a little mayo, tuna or leftover roast chicken, fresh ground pepper, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Boom, two days of the best pasta salad, ever.

Next, turn it into relish for a hot dog. Yes, I stole this directly from Chicago. They own this condiment; any application I can think of is basically moot. Tasty, but moot. Again, chop about a cup of giardiniera and mix with two heaping tablespoons of sweet pickle relish. The sweetness will temper the aggressively acidic bite of the veggies and complement the saltiness and uniform texture of the dog.

Finally, and hear me out, giardiniera makes an awesome pizza topping along with massive amounts of red chili flakes and a belly full of booze. It adds crunch and texture to the pizza, and heartily satisfies that "I can handle this amount of flavor" feeling one gets from one too many sparkling rosés. Awh, I just gave away my mysterious inspiration for today's What To Eat For Lunch.

More awesome condiments for lunch on Food Republic: