Why You Should Stop Throwing Out Leftover Giardiniera Brine

When you think of giardiniera, you probably think of Chicago. But per the Chicago Tribune, these spicy vegetables in a jar of brine were invented in Italy. Jim Graziano, who owns and runs an Italian store that has been part of the Chicago landscape since 1937 told the news outlet Italians pickled their vegetables out of necessity to preserve them. Graziano said, "It was strictly to protect the vegetables for the winter." When you eat giardiniera, whether that be as part of antipasti or piled on a sandwich, the crunch and colors should bring to mind visions of spring. 

Giada De Laurentiis shares on her Giadzy website almost any vegetable can be turned into giardiniera. You can even make giardiniera pickles and keep your favorite pickled vegetables in the fridge for quick and easy meals; however, the Chicago version of giardiniera is different from Italian giardiniera. What's the difference? The Italian version is comprised of big pieces of "cauliflower, peppers, celery, green beans, onions and carrots" that are bathed in a spicy vinegar brine, whereas Chicagoans like theirs finely chopped up and preserved in oil to use as a condiment. But after you eat up all those delicious veggies, both types of brine have further use, so don't toss them.

Use it for drinks and cooking

According to the Seattle Times, brine from pickles or pretty much any pickled vegetable or fruit tastes fabulous in cocktails. This is especially true if you aren't a fan of sweet drinks. The brine will tame that sugary taste, whether it is vinegar or salt based, and taste delicious in the process. The spicy brine from giardiniera will also add a little kick to your cocktail. To get its full effect, try it in a Volpi Dirty Martini.

But if you are dealing with the Chicago version of giardiniera, Food & Wine suggests using your giardiniera and its flavor-infused oil, along with "capers, Castelvetrano olives, and garlic cloves," chopped up into a relish. You can then make the ever-popular Italian muffuletta sandwich by simply adding a little cheese. But don't stop there. The Takeout suggests using that leftover oil to fry up your grilled cheese and eggs or use it to make Aiol-G. Of course, the Reddit community also had some great ideas. One member suggested using your leftover giardiniera to make a flavorful salad dressing, while another suggested it is great to add to homemade pizza. With all these options, there's certainly no reason to throw it out.