For Chicago Flavor, Make a Dijon Giardiniera Vinaigrette

Chicago's favorite condiment shines just as bright in salad dressing.

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Giardiniera
Photo: bhofack2 (Getty Images)

If you know anything about Chicago food, you’re probably well aware of one of our favorite condiments in the city: giardiniera. This mix of spicy pickled peppers and vegetables in oil is always on offer at sandwich shops, hot dog stands, and Italian beef joints—we even put it on our pizza. Our love for this shit is no joke, and if there’s one thing you’ll always find in my refrigerator (aside from kimchi), it’s giardiniera.

Every bit of the stuff is valuable, including the soybean oil it’s steeped in. The oil itself takes on the spiciness from the serrano peppers in the giardiniera mix (which usually also contains some combination of carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, garlic, and olives), which is why you really don’t want to throw it away. That excess oil dripping all over an Italian beef makes for a sandwich you will never, ever, forget.

As a testament to the versatility of giardiniera oil, I came up with a vinaigrette you can use to douse your cured meat sandwiches and salads, inspired by a salad I picked up at Foxtrot Market for lunch. Associate editor Brianna Wellen was the one who tipped me off to the genius concoction of mixed greens, strips of salami, giardiniera, and burrata, served with a bright, spicy vinaigrette. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, but this thing slayed.

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In homage to this excellent use of Chicago’s favorite condiment, I set out to make an all-purpose dressing that would not only use up the leftover giardiniera oil at the bottom of the jar, but would also capture the essence of my delicious Foxtrot salad. I now present to you: Dijon giardiniera vinaigrette. Say that four times fast.


Dijon Mustard Giardiniera Oil Vinaigrette in cup, with slightly olive color
If it looks like this, it’s good to go.
Photo: Dennis Lee
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Dijon Giardiniera Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp. spicy or mild giardiniera, minced
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup giardiniera oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk giardiniera, garlic, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and black pepper together until all ingredients are thoroughly blended.

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Combine giardiniera oil and extra virgin olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. Start whisking the mustard mixture vigorously, then while continuing to whisk, slowly pour the oil mixture into the bowl in a thin stream until everything is emulsified.

Store in a bottle in refrigerator and shake vigorously just before each use. Use within one month.

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