National Burger Day Recipe: Italian-Style Pickle Relish from Bruce Kalman

The Union chef piles his patty with this tangy giardiniere

Sure, you could hit Oinkster tonight in honor of National Burger Day, but why not assemble your own version of the American classic at home? Seasoning and shaping the perfect patty is crucial, but securing some extra-special toppings can take even a basic burger to the next level. Chef Bruce Kalman of Pasadena’s Union knows a thing or two about pickling (he’s got his own pickle company on the side). He suggests piling his giardiniere—an Italian-style pickle relish with cauliflower, carrots, serranos, and more—atop your sizzling beef along with smoked gouda and a lemon aioli. Warning: the recipe requires some advanced planning (the pickling process takes a day or two), but we have a feeling burgers will be on the menu a few more times this summer.


  • 3 ¼ cups distilled white vinegar
  • 3 ½ ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ ounces pure ocean salt
  • ½ pound Serrano chiles, stems removed
  • 10 ounces red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, 1” dice
  • 5 ¼ ounces yellow onions, julienne, blanched
  • 1 pound cauliflower, small florets, blanched
  • 1 pound carrots, thin slices, blanched
  • 1 pound celery with light green leaves, sliced thin
  • 1 ounce garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 ¼ cup olive oil blend 90/10


  1. In a medium non-reactive sauce pot, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt and bring to a boil
  2. Add the chiles and cook through, remove from the heat and cool completely
  3. When cool, slice the peppers ¼-inch thick
  4. In a plastic container, combine all of the ingredients and stir well
  5. Allow to marinate for 1-2 days before serving