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This classic Italian pickle, which makes a great antipasto, contains an array of vegetables preserved to maintain their distinctive flavors and textures. The recipe is flexible: use asparagus or green beans for any of the vegetables, or lemon thyme for the oregano. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 small zucchini, about 3/4 lb. total, cut into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  • 10 to 12 celery stalks, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 6 ice cubes
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar (6 percent acidity), plus more if needed
  • 4 red bell peppers, about 1 1/2 lb. total, halved and seeded
  • 3 or 4 carrots, peeled
  • 6 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 18 garlic cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbs. peppercorns
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

In a large nonreactive bowl, combine the zucchini and celery. Add 1 Tbs. of the salt and the ice cubes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Drain, rinse and then drain well. Set the zucchini and celery aside.

Have ready 6 hot, sterilized one-pint jars and their lids.

In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the 3 cups vinegar and the remaining 1 Tbs. salt. Add 3 cups water, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.

Meanwhile, cut each bell pepper half into 4 rectangles. Cut the carrots into sticks about 1/4 inch thick and at least 1/2 inch shorter than the height of the jars.

In each jar, place 1 oregano sprig, 3 garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf and 1/2 tsp. peppercorns. Divide the zucchini, celery, bell peppers, carrots and cauliflower among the jars, filling them to within 1 inch of the rims.

Ladle the hot brine into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace and adding more vinegar if needed. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Add 1 Tbs. olive oil to each jar. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.

Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Let the jars stand undisturbed for 24 hours and then set them aside for 2 weeks for the flavors to develop. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes 6 one-pint jars.

Adapted from The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field (Weldon Owen, 2010).