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Updated on September 12, 2014

Giardiniera: Discover This Delicious Italian Style Condiment

Discover Giardiniera!

No, that's not some far away place in Italy ... It's a delicious Italian style condiment that is guaranteed to add a little kick to every meal.

So what exactly is giardiniera?

Well, loosely translated from Italian, the word "giardiniera" means "from the garden". And everything you'll find in giardiniera is indeed from the garden.

Although recipes differ, most traditional giardiniera contains hot or mild peppers, celery, carrots, pitted green olives, and other vegetables mixed with a spice blend and packed in shelf stable oil.

Read on for all the creative uses for giardiniera ...


So How Do You Pronounce "Giardiniera"??

It's Easy ...

While giardiniera might be a hard word to spell, it's well worth the time to learn how to pronounce it.

Anything this delicious, everyone should know how to ask for it by name!

So, without further eloquence, here is how to pronounce "giardiniera":


Just let it flow off your tongue a few times and you'll notice there is an ever-so-slight emphasis on the 3rd syllable (the "NAIR").

Sometimes, if you're in Chicago, you'll hear people dropping off the last syllable, so it sounds like "Jar-dih-NAIR". That's because in Chicago, we drop off lots of syllables from lots of words.

As an example, did you know what the word "Jyeetyet" means?

Well, there's really no such word, but you'll hear it in Chicago all the time. It translates to: "Did you eat yet?"

So, "Jar-Dih-Nair-Ah" or "Jar-Dih-Nair", take your pick. Either way it's delicious!

Giardiniera on Italian Beef
Giardiniera on Italian Beef

How To Use Giardiniera

It Goes Great With ...

There are all kinds of ways to use giardiniera to liven up your meals. It's a great addition to any Italian dish, hot or cold. Further, giardiniera is versatile, so it can be added after a dish is prepared or baked right in.

Here are five of our favorite uses for giardiniera ...

Italian Beef Sandwiches: Giardiniera on an Italian beef sandwich is like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire ... they go great together. The crispy texture of the giardiniera perfectly complements the soft Italian roll and juicy, tender beef.

Pizza: Giardiniera on pizza is like the crown atop Miss America's head ... well, sort of. But it is the ideal finishing touch on a work of art. Add a few fork fulls after the pizza is served to liven up your pie. With a frozen pizza, spread giardiniera over the top before placing it in the oven. The giardiniera will bake right in and add a fantastic new taste dimension to the pizza.

Salads: Tumble some giardiniera into a tossed salad, pasta salad, or antipasto tray. You'll never find your salads boring again!

Scrambled Eggs and Omelets: Forget Bloody Marys, giardiniera for breakfast is the real eye opener! We like to add a fork full into scrambled eggs or fold it right into an omelet while it's cooking.

Baked Pasta: Giardiniera is the perfect accompaniment for any type of pasta dish, but it's particularly delicious when it's baked right in. If you find some pasta meals to be a little bland, add a kick of flavor and texture with hot or mild giardiniera.

Really, any kind of Italian cooking is enhanced by a fork full or two of giardiniera. Of course, it's great on sub sandwiches so if you're a Subway or Jimmy John's fan, add some hot or mild giardiniera to your sub ... it'll rock!

Giardiniera - Chicago Style
Giardiniera - Chicago Style

Types Of Giardiniera

There's Something For Everyone's Tastes ...

No matter how your taste buds tingle, there's a style of giardiniera made just for you. Let's take a look at some of the more popular varieties ...

Hot Or Mild: Some like it hot (and some don't). And that's why there are hot and mild versions of giardiniera available. Over the last 20 years or so, hot and spicy condiments have really taken off, but hot giardiniera has been there all along.

Depending on the level of heat, certain types of hot peppers are used. The "normal" hot variety gives a pleasant, smoldering heat ... a heat that is designed to complement the food rather than overwhelm it. Hotter varieties, often labeled Extra Hot, sometimes use the devilish Scotch Bonnet pepper, one of the hottest peppers around.

On the other end of the spectrum, mild giardiniera doesn't add heat ... it just adds flavor. Try both the hot and mild and see which you like best!

Giardiniera Relish: When you look at a jar of traditional giardiniera, you'll be able to pick out all the ingredients by sight. You'll see the peppers, olives, celery, and so on.

With giardiniera relish, everything is minced. It doesn't change the flavor; it merely changes the appearance.

Giardiniera relish, invented about fifteen years ago by E. Formella and Sons, is sometimes preferred by diners because it's "neater". When we say neater, we mean it's easier to spread on a sandwich. You don't have chunks of peppers or celery rolling off the Italian beef or rolling off the pizza slice.

Eggplant Salad: Eggplant salad isn't really giardiniera, but it's made in the giardiniera style. Eggplant is cut into strips and added to the traditional giardiniera mix of vegetables, spices, and oil. Hot and mild varieties are available.

You can use eggplant salad the exact same way you use giardiniera. The eggplant adds a chewy and slightly salty dimension to the mix and simply put, it's one of the best condiments ever put into a jar in our humble opinion.

Click on the "E. Formella and Sons" link above to see all kinds of giardiniera and related Italian style condiments. Tell Randy or Kathy cousin Jim sent you!

Like Italian food...try these cookbooks!

The Babbo Cookbook
The Babbo Cookbook

Wonderful recipes from Mario Batali of Food Network fame.

Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes
Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes

Tasty recipes from Giada De Laurentiis.


Where To Buy Giardiniera

The Real Chicago Style Stuff

Here is our preferred vendor for delicious & reasonably priced giardiniera:

Italian Giardiniera

The link takes you to the website of our lifelong friend's business, E. Formella and Sons. The two owners, Randy Formella and his wife Kathy, are located in the western suburbs of Chicago. The business was founded by Randy's paternal grandfather, Enrico Formella, in Chicago's iconic Bridgeport neighborhood in 1909. Enrico was a Sicilian immigrant and soon started to make giardiniera for his new friends, business associates, and of course, his family ...

The business experienced it's ebbs and flows until finally being taken over on a full time basis by Randy's dad Bob Formella in the late 1970s. Randy and Kathy have grown the business into an international company with an expansive product line and customers all over the world. Their new facility in Countryside, IL is a sight to behold ... and it's a far cry from the early 70's when Randy's mom and dad used to make and pack giardiniera out of their garage!

E. Formella and Sons is going strong with almost 105 years of making great tasting Italian specialty foods under their belts. We are proud to feature them here on Squidoo and we hope you pay a visit to their website and say hello. Tell them Cousin Jim sent you!

Giardiniera Poll - Please take a second to register your vote...hey I'm from Chicago so "Vote Early and Often" ; )

Have You Ever Tried Giardiniera?

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Antipasto Salad with Giardiniera
Antipasto Salad with Giardiniera

Antipasto Salad Recipe

Tasty at summer parties and picnics!


1 package (16 ounces) medium pasta shells

2 jars (16 ounces each) mild giardiniera

1 pound fresh broccoli florets

1/2 pound cubed part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 pound hard salami, cubed

1/2 pound deli ham, cubed

2 packages (3-1/2 ounces each) sliced pepperoni, halved

1 large green pepper, cut into chunks

1 can (6 ounces) pitted ripe olives, drained


1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt


Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, drain giardiniera, reserving 3/4 cup liquid. In a large bowl, combine the giardiniera, broccoli, mozzarella, salami, ham, pepperoni, green pepper and olives. Drain pasta and rinse in cold water; stir into meat mixture.

For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, pepper, salt and reserved giardiniera liquid. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 25 servings (1 cup each).

Courtesy of Taste of

How To Store Giardiniera

Don't Refrigerate!

Most people assume that since giardiniera is a food product, it needs to be refrigerated after opening ...

Not so!

The oil that giardiniera is packed in is shelf stable. That means your giardiniera will safely store in a kitchen cabinet much the same as your bottle of vegetable oil or olive oil ...

The downside of refrigerating giardiniera is this ... the oil will become discolored and cloudy, which in turn will affect the taste. Your giardiniera will have an off taste, sometimes even bitter if you refrigerate it.

If you like a little chill on your giardiniera, that's ok. Just scoop out a few forkfulls about 1/2 hour before serving and put it in a small bowl in your refrigerator to chill. We don't like it chilled personally, but we do understand chilled giardiniera provides a nice contrast to hot temperature foods, like an Italian beef sandwich or a meatball sandwich ...

Giardiniera will store safely on a cabinet shelf for a year or even more, so don't worry about spoilage. Just keep it in a room temperature dry place and it will be ready to use ...


Chicago Italian Beef Sandwich with Hot Giardiniera

Mouthwateringly delicious!


The beef:

1 boneless beef roast, about 3 pounds with most of the fat trimmed off

The rub:

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

The juice:

6 cups of hot water

4 cubes of beef bouillon

The sandwich:

10 soft, fluffy, rolls, sliced lengthwise but hinged on one side or Italian bread loaves cut widthwise into 10 portions

3 medium sized green bell peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil, approximately

1 cup hot giardiniera

Pour the water into a 9 x 13" baking pan and heat it to a boil on the stove top. Dissolve the bouillon in the water. It may look thin, but it will cook down and concentrate during the roasting. Pour the remaining rub into the pan. Place a rack on top of the pan. Place the roast on top of the rack above the juice. Roast at 400°F until interior temperature is 130 to 135°F for medium rare, about 30 minutes per pound.

While the meat is roasting, cut the bell peppers in half and remove the stems and seeds. Rinse, and cut into 1/4" strips. Cook the peppers in a frying pan over a medium high heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom, about 1 tablespoon. When they are getting limp and the skins begin to brown, about 15 minutes, they are done. Set aside at room temp.

Remove the roast and the juice pan. Let the meat sit for about 30 minutes for the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat fibers, and then place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Let it cool for about a few hours, long enough for the meat to firm up. This will make slicing easier. Slice the meat against the grain as thin as humanly possible, preferably with a meat slicer.

To assemble the sandwich, start by spooning some juice directly onto the bun. Get it wet. Then lay on the beef generously. Spoon on more juice then top it with bell pepper and giardiniera.

Cooking time: 90 minutes to cook a 3 pound roast, or about 30 minutes per pound. You can cook this well in advance and refrigerate the meat and juice and heat it up as needed. You can even freeze it. After you cook it, you need another 30 minutes to chill it before slicing.

Recipe courtesy of website

Italian Themed Sites We Like - Hey, How You Doin'?

The web is full of great websites to visit. Here are a few of our Italian themed favorites ...

Tell Us How You Use Giardiniera! - Any Other Creative Uses?

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    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Never thought of putting giardiniera in eggs, but it sounds really good.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 4 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I consider myself pretty clued up on food, but this is something I've never heard of. I think I'll be making some at home very soon, as the garden is packed full of vegies at the moment.

    • profile image

      dellgirl 4 years ago

      This is a really nice lens, itâs very informative! I learned a lot, thank you for sharing.

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 4 years ago

      Worth trying!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 4 years ago

      Wow! This looks great. I grew up in Chicago and wonder how I missed finding this.

    • profile image

      chickie99 5 years ago

      never have used giardiniera but really enjoy Italian.

      thanks for the lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My favorite use of Giardiniera is on omelets. Take just about any omelet, top it with Pace Picante sauce and a large scoop of Giardiniera and you have moved that plain old omelet to a whole new level of flavorishisness. I live about 50 miles north of Chicago and most people around here do drop the "a". I stumbled on this site while trying to find out which of the pronunciations was correct.

      IMHO: The best Giardiniera on the planet comes from Tenuta's Deli in Kenosha, Wi. Available on-line. I like the "hot" style. NOT affiliated with the deli in ANY way. Tenuta's is a family operation. I'm Lithuanian. Do the math.. LOL!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      This is something new to me. Thanks!

    • Beadsnresin profile image

      Beadsnresin 6 years ago

      When I was a kid I would go hunting for the onions lol

    • profile image

      blanckj 6 years ago

      I've never heard of it before. Thanks for sharing.