This is a type of Italian pickle, translated as "gardeners", which is generally served as an antipasti and contains an assortment of vegetables – from the garden, perhaps? Classically, it contains carrot, onion and cauliflower, and is a light crisp version of pickles. Like all great dishes with age-old traditions, there are many versions. I’ve tried several but this is my favourite; it’s very easy and gives you a pickle that's ready to eat within a few days.
- ¼ cup river salt
- 2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 2 cups carrots, roll cut
- 3 baby fennel, cut into wedges
- ½ small red cabbage, cut into wedges and then in half
- 12 red or breakfast radish, cut in half
- 1 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, de-seeded and cut into 2 cm pieces on an angle
- 1.2 litres red wine vinegar
- 800 ml water
- ⅔ cup caster sugar
- 2 tbsp salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time overnight
Marinating time 3 days
Place all the vegetables in a large mixing bowl and give them a good mix. What you want to see before you is a lovely array of colours all cut into fairly similar sizes. Add the river salt and use your hands to massage it through all the vegetables thoroughly. Have a little taste, you want to definitely get a salty feeling, but one that’s not too overpowering. Cover with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge to sit overnight.
The next day, place the pickling liquid ingredients into a pot, bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes or so, and then set aside to cool. You want the liquid to cool to just above room temperature (use your finger to test – if you can comfortably leave it in the liquid while still feeling some warmth, then it should be right).
Meanwhile, take your vegetables out of the fridge; you will notice they have softened slightly and should be sitting in a puddle of water. Bit by bit, grab a handful, give them a little shake and a gentle squeeze, and transfer to a container big enough to fit all the vegetables snugly with a little extra room at the top.
Pour over the pickle liquid, making sure it completely covers the vegetables. Place a weight on top and press down so all is submerged, cover with plastic wrap and slip them back in the fridge.
Let them sit for about 3 days, but remember to think of them often. Feel free to have a little taste test each day, too.
After 3 days, they should be happy and ready to go. I like to eat them tossed with a little olive oil, a touch of salt and a piece of buttered bread. They're useful as an accompaniment to any variety of cured meats or antipasti-style dishes. They're also good sliced up and added to a salad.
• Use this recipe as a general guide, but remember that there are many vegetables you can use. Use as many or as few as you like, add herbs, experiment, go wild.
Photographs by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.