Don’t call it a relish; relishes mask flavor for the weak and unimaginative. Giardiniera—basically chopped peppers and vegetables marinated until they’re good and punitive—zaps everything with an oily sheen of danger. Whether it lands on Italian beef sandwiches, brats, pasta, or pizzas—hell, I’ve seen people douse their eggs with it—giardiniera turns ordinary food into something memorable. Giardiniera came to the United States with Italian immigrants, but Chicagoans give it their own spin. Our jar-dih-nair usually includes sport peppers and pepper flakes and proffers a vinegar jolt so fierce it tempers the sweet, amplifies the salty, and unlocks all kinds of weird flavor combinations. It even gives cauliflower street cred. That alone makes it the greatest condiment ever.

Pork & Mindy’s Giardiniera

Yield:5 cups
Active Time:10 minutes

2½ cups Water
2½ cups White vinegar
3 Tbsp. Sugar
¼ cup Salt
1 cup Diced carrots
1 cup Small cauliflower florets
4 to 8 Serrano chilies (depending on desired heat), cut into ½-inch slices
1 Stalk celery, cut into ½-inch slices
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups Canola oil
1 Tbsp. Dried oregano
½ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Pitted green olives

1. Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a 3-quart pot. Add sugar and salt and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and transfer liquid to a glass bowl. Mix in the carrots, cauliflower, chilies, celery, and bell pepper. Allow mixture to rest until cooled (about 2 hours). Drain vegetables thoroughly and let dry in a colander or on a paper-towel-lined sheet pan overnight.

2. Transfer vegetables to a clean glass bowl and add oil, oregano, black pepper, and olives. Stir to combine, making sure oil coats the vegetables. Transfer giardiniera to Mason jars or a large covered container. Let marinate at least 2 days before serving.