What We Ate: Spicy Giardiniera Chicken

I’ve heard from people that sometimes your tastes change during pregnancy, and then those tastes stick around afterwards. I can absolutely attest to this being true. Before I had Dane, I loved candy – the sour/fruity kind (lemon-heads, skittles, sprees etc), but sweets weren’t really my thing… we didn’t even have cake at our wedding! (We did have pie from THIS adorable shop in Door County though – so it wasn’t completely dessert free). During my 10 months of pregnancy I was a sweets monster. I couldn’t get enough chocolate, donuts, cupcakes and pretty much anything else containing sugar + bread. I couldn’t control myself most days, making pit stops at Dunkin’ or the grocery store on the way to work… I am not really proud of this fact, but it is what it is. Fortunately, post-pregnancy, the cravings have subsided for the most part. I still enjoy a piece of cake, but my tastes seem to have calmed their crazy-selves.

One taste change I had and still welcome, is love of hot peppers. Casey is a big fan of spicy foods, and has been wearing me down for a few years now. I’ve always been on board with a little spice, but now I can’t get enough! I specifically LOVE giardiniera – which you can get at the grocery store. It’s a mixture of spicy, pickled jalapenos, cauliflower, carrots and sometimes pickles and I want to put it on EVERYTHING. Typically it goes hand in hand with Italian beef sandwiches, but I was searching for a recipe that I could easily make at home on a weeknight. Here’s what I came up with:

What You Need

  • 1 lb chicken (we used tenders)
    • Tip: tenders are great for portion control. We’ve realized neither of us need a huge chicken breast so we’ve started buying these in bulk, and portioning two tenders for each of us – freeze them in zip-lock bags and they’re perfect for a quick weeknight meal!
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped hot giardiniera mix (I used two kinds, because one had more veggies – Casey likes more jalapenos, and I love the celery, cauliflower + other veg)
  • Fresh mozzarella


Saute the garlic + giardiniera in olive oil for a few minutes so the veggies get tender. Next up add the tenders in, cook for approximately 3-4 minutes on each side until the chicken’s juices run clear. Another perk to tenders is that they cook super quickly. Once the chicken is done, transfer to a lined baking sheet and top with mozzarella. We used the broiler to melt the cheese, and we found that the cheese really helps cut the spiciness.

We added our chicken to rice (which was just made with a little chicken stock for flavor). You could use pasta, quinoa or even sauteed spinach as a bed for the chicken. This definitely satisfied my craving, and I’ll be making this again in the future! If you’re not a huge spice fan, they do make more mild giardiniera you could sub out.

If you have any spicy recipes to share – send them my way because I can’t get enough!

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Wisconsin wife and mama to Dane (4) and expecting baby girl in May. Navigating life post-cancer. Lover of food, red wine and laughs. Forever grateful for my wonderful life.

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