Taste

From The Kitchen of Dean Cacciatore: Ciambotta, Italian Vegetable Stew

This is a great recipe that my grandmother used as a base for other stews. She basically used all the leftover produce from the garden to create this stew. This is a great fall recipe and can include a variety of meat, seafood or just grated cheese. I personally like to add garbanzo beans and some shredded mozzarella on the bottom of the soup bowl and then pour over the hot stew and enjoy the long strings of cheese. Buon Appetito!

INGREDIENTS

⅓ cup olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

3 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ oz fresh basil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon dried leaf thyme

1 ¼pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup water

1 (28-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, juice reserved and tomatoes chopped, or 1 ¾ pounds fresh tomatoes, chopped

2 red bell peppers, cut into ¾-inch pieces

¾ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 ¼ pounds zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

¾ pound boiling potatoes (about 2 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

PREPARATION

Heat oil in a 7-to 8-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add onions, celery, carrots, thyme, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until pale golden, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant and water and cook covered, stirring occasionally until eggplant is slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice and bell peppers, then reduce heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook green beans in a 3 to 4-quart saucepan of well-salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add zucchini to boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to bowl with green beans. Add potatoes to boiling water and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and add to beans and zucchini.

Add boiled vegetables and fresh basil to stew and simmer, stirring until all vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes. Season with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.

Stew can be made up to a week before serving. Just like wine, it gets better with time.

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