GIARDINIERA (PICKLED VEGETABLES)
Makes about 8 cups, or enough to fill 4 pint-sized jars.
Note: This pickle is nicely flavored within hours, but continues to improve over the first few days and holds well for a month or more. Recipe is easily halved. Adapted from "Quick Pickles," by Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby and Dan George
• 8 c. total, of the following vegetables, in any proportion you like, prepped in the following manner:
• Carrots (peeled, then cut into 1/2-in. chunks at thickest end, and successively longer chunks as carrot narrows; prettiest if done on diagonal)
• Cauliflower (cored and separated into florets of about 1-in. diameter)
• Onion (halved end to end, then sliced into 1/2-in. wedges)
• Red bell pepper (cored and cut into chunks of about 1 in.)
• Green beans (stems removed; halved if particularly long, otherwise left whole)
• Radishes (stemmed and quartered)
• Celery (cut into 3/4-in. segments, with leaves intact)
• 6 or 7 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
• 3 tbsp. fresh oregano or thyme leaves
• 3 c. white wine vinegar
• 13/4 c. water
• 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1 tbsp. kosher salt
• 4 bay leaves, crushed
• 2 tsp. fennel seed
• 2 tsp. black peppercorns
In a large non-reactive bowl, combine vegetables with the garlic and herbs; toss well to mix.
To prepare brine: In a medium pan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, crushed bay leaves, fennel seed and peppercorns. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes (salt and sugar should be completely dissolved).
Immediately pour hot brine over the vegetables, and mix gently. Allow mixture to sit undisturbed until cooled, then ladle into clean jars, distributing garlic, herbs, spices and brine as evenly as possible. Cover jars tightly and refrigerate.