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Giardiniera (Pickled Vegetables)
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2006

Makes about 10 cups

For pickling liquid:
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
3 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes

For vegetables:
1 head cauliflower (2 lb), trimmed and broken into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets (6 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices (2 cups)
4 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (3 cups)
1 cup drained bottled whole peperoncini (4 oz)
1 cup large brine-cured greens olives (preferably Sicilian; 6 oz)*
1/2 cup oil-cured black olives (6 oz)

Prepare pickling liquid: Bring pickling-liquid ingredients to a boil in a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan** over moderate head, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a 4-quart nonreactive bowl and cool about 30 minutes.

Cook vegetables: Bring about 6 quarts unsalted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. Add cauliflower to pot and boil until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to ice bath to stop cooking. Cook remaining vegetables separately in same manner, allowing 4 minutes each for bell peppers*** and carrots and 2 minutes for celery. Drain vegetables in a colander and spread out on 2 large kitchen towls to dry. Add cooked vegetables, peperoncini, and olives to pickling liquid, Weight vegetables with a plate to keep them submerged, then chill, covered, at least 1 day.

Do ahead: Pickled vegetables keep, covered and chilled, 1 week.

* Omitted, as the Husband prefers his pickled vegetables sans olives, and we aim to please here.
** Stainless steel, glass, and enameled cast iron are nonreactive; avoid pure aluminum and uncoated iron, which can impart an unpleasant taste to recipes with acidic ingredients.
*** I’d probably only simmer the bell peppers for 3, instead of 4, minutes next time as they got soft very quickly.

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