Giardiniera are the beloved pickled vegetables of Italy, with chunks of cauliflower, carrots, onions and red bell peppers. This quick version of the original is topped with crunchy and spicy bread crumbs — perfect for snacks and antipasti.
Pickled Cauliflower with Chile Bread Crumbs
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head cauliflower, purple if available, cut into bite-size florets
3 Tbs. chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, basil or mint, or a mixture
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small fresh hot chile, minced, or a generous pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (3 oz./90 g.) fresh bread crumbs
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the garlic. Set aside.
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan and fill the pan with water up to but not touching the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the cauliflower to the basket, cover, and steam until just tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and sprinkle with the herbs. Pour the vinegar mixture over and toss to coat thoroughly. Let marinate for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes so that the vinegar is evenly absorbed.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chile and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bread crumbs and stir to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until the crumbs are crisped and golden brown, 5-7 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the bread crumbs and serve. Serves 6-8.