Rich’s Giardiniera


Rich’s Giardiniera

Richard Hianik
A Chicago Classic! Giardiniera brings your hot dogs, burgers, nachos and eggs to life. Warning – this is Hot, Hot, Hot!!!
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Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 Quarts


  • 3 to 4 Wide Mouth Mason Jars
  • Large Non Reactive Mixing Bowl (Glass or Stainless Steel)


  • lbs Serrano Peppers Trim Stems and cut into ¼ inch piece
  • 10-12 Jalapeno Peppers Trim Stems and Dice
  • 10-12 Habanero Peppers Trim Stems and Dice
  • 6-8 Ghost Peppers Trim Stems and Dice
  • 6-8 Trinidad Scorpion Pepper Trim Stems and Dice
  • 6-8 Carolina Reaper Peppers Trim Stems and Dice
  • 2 Yellow Onions (Large) Diced
  • 1 lb Baby Carrots Cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 bunch Celery Cut into ¼ inch pieces. For the larger stalks, you may want to slice them down the middle to create 2 more halves, then cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 head Cauliflower (Medium) ONLY use the florets sections. Cut those into the smallest florets possible…I know this will be time consuming and tedious…but you, and the giardiniera, will appreciate it in the end!!
  • 11½ oz Sliced Green Olives Drain liquid
  • 1 Sweet Red Pepper (Large) Diced. Ok.Ok..I know this totally goes against my rule for making everything HOT…but it is for color only!!
  • 6-7 Garlic Cloves (Large) Pressed. If you don’t want to go through this process, jarred chopped garlic is fine…I would say 3-4 heaping Tbls
  • ¼ cup Oregano
  • cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil Additional EVOO will be required later for filling jars
  • ¾ cup Distilled White Vinegar Actually any Vinegar you like would be great
  • ¾ cup Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Ground Black Pepper Heaping
  • ½ cup Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Water to Cover


  • In a large Mixing Bowl combine the cut and diced Serrano, Jalapeno, Habanero, Ghost, Trinidad Scorpion, and Carolina Reaper peppers – along with the cut and diced yellow onions, baby carrots, celery, cauliflower, and sweet red peppers.
  • Cover entire mixture with cool tap water.
  • Pour in the sea salt and stir thoroughly through the mixture.
  • Cover the mixing bowl with aluminum foil and refrigerate mixture for no less than 12-24 hours (NOTE: This process is super important to the entire process, flavor and consistency of the giardiniera, so just make sure you allow enough time for the mixture to be refrigerated for AT LEAST 12 hours).
  • After refrigeration is complete, discard aluminum foil and pour mixture into a strainer and thoroughly rinse under running water for about 2-3 minutes – shaking strainer periodically to make sure all of the mixture gets rinsed.
  • Once rinsed, transfer mixture from strainer back into mixing bowl.
  • To mixture, add garlic, sliced olives, oregano, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Stir entire mix THOROUGHLY, making sure ALL ingredients are meshed well with one another.
  • With a slotted spoon, scoop mix into Mason jar until full. Once jar is full, pour more EVOO into jar until mixture is completely covered. (This is very important as you want oil to completely cover the mix while in the jars to prevent some of the mix on top losing moisture). Note: I have found a good method for ensuring there is enough oil in the jar to cover everything, is to take a fork or knife and simply insert into the mix after the initial oil has been poured in. If the oil level drops, you need to add a bit more, if it keeps it level, you are good to go!
  • Once each jar is filled with mix and oil (wow…I know that sounds more like something you’d hear in a garage shop, but believe me, it tastes MUCH better!!), tightly screw on Mason jar lids and refrigerate all jars for AT LEAST 3 DAYS. I know you will be tempted to try it sooner, but the refrigeration process further secures the “crispness” or “crunch” that the peppers and vegetables need. In the end, you will be glad you kept them in there!
  • After the (3) days are up, you can then store the jars in any pantry, or cupboard until use. You do not have to keep the unopened Giardiniera in the refrigerator at all times. If you like, that is perfectly fine, but I find that keeping the mix in a “room temperature” environment for 3-4 weeks before use, really let’s all the ingredients blend well with one another.


  • Prior to use (unopened yet), you can keep the mix in the fridge or anywhere at room temp or slightly below. Because the mix is fully contained in EVOO, unopened jars can last up to 14-18 months. In fact, I find that the BEST tasting mix are the ones that have been sitting for 1-2 months.
  • Once a jar is opened, you can keep it at either room temperature or refrigerate. I have done both, and each way provides the same taste and freshness. Just make sure, if you do keep the opened jar on the shelf, that the oil level is always covering the mix. Once open, a jar kept on the shelf, should be consumed within a 2-3 month timeframe – while an opened refrigerated jar can keep up to 5-6 months longer.
  • NOTE: If/when you store any jar in the fridge, it is VERY COMMON for the oil to coagulate while in the fridge. This is normal and expected due to the EVOO effect. As soon as you open the jar, and scoop out some of the mix, it will immediately transfer back to its natural oil consistency


As you can imagine, food is a very personal thing. Every person has a different palate and different “likes” when it comes to what they prefer. What may be one person’s delight, may be another’s avoidance. For me, and hopefully for a lot of people, I simply gravitate to what I like and what I enjoy – regardless of what that food “combination” or “ingredient” may be. My affinity and love of extremely spicy and hot food grabbed me at an early age, and I have never looked back. What made me choose the “extremely spicy” path you ask?? An excellent question I wish I had an answer for!! Being primarily of Eastern European descent, with a bit of Dutch mixed in on my mother’s side, one would be fair in saying that does not exude a “spicy” heritage. As far as I can remember, my grandparents on both sides were not lovers of spicy food – let alone atomic spicy! Neither were my parents, nor is my wife and kids. Needless to say, somewhere in time, I was the only one in generations that received the extremely spicy DNA gene. So with that said, it remains, to this day, one of my biggest mysteries – but a mystery I am very thankful for!
Yes…I am a true lover of extremely spicy food. No matter where my travels have taken me, I always made a point to research what establishment has the “spiciest/hottest food”, and make every attempt to visit that establishment, and I still continue with that trend today. However (I know…I, know…there always seems to be a however!), my love of the most extreme spicy does have one catch to it…not only does it have to be extremely spicy, it has to be FLAVORFUL as well. So many times, places “claim” they have the hottest food, or the “world’s spiciest”, only to find out – at least according to my palate – it’s not that spicy at all, or, it’s so way over the top hot but with ZERO flavor. To enhance this love of extreme spicy, I have had my own pepper garden for many years – mainly consisting of a combination of extremely hot peppers, with some other veggies thrown in to keep my wife and kids happy. As the garden got bigger, and more pepper varieties became available, I was getting a tremendous pepper yield – much more than I could ever consume myself. So I thought “what could I make that I really like – and that can keep for a good portion of time?” Boom…the idea of my own Giardiniera was born! I wanted to make something that not only would have the “true” heat level I enjoy, but would offer an enjoyable flavor as well. I wanted something that I KNEW would have the spice level I prefer, and would provide flavor at the same time. So…I went ahead and gave it a go about 2 years ago. I am happy to say, that along the way, I started coming across other people who have the same love of mine in terms of “extreme heat” but wanted “flavor” as well. As a result, I committed myself (bad choice of words I know…) to make something that is HOT when it’s supposed to be hot, and that has FLAVOR when it’s supposed to have flavor. It’s a passion of mine that I love and would not give up for the world.
My goal is not to provide retail or anything for commerce.
My goal is to tell other people like myself, lovers of extremely spicy and flavorful food, my story and the hopes of one day offering them a sample for their enjoyment.
Should you ever have any questions about my Giardiniera, the process, ingredients, storage, usage ideas….anything…I would be more than happy to have a chat anytime!
Thank you!
Rich Hianik
Keyword hot peppers, relish
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