Posted by: Rabideye | August 19, 2009

Ciambotta: A Southern Italian Stew

chiambot

It’s “Ciambotta” (pronounced “chee-am-botta”), a Southern Italian stew can be prepared with currently abundant local 50-mile ingredients in a Vegan and Non-Vegan (with fish and/or eggs) style. Again, as in most cases of ‘minestra’ (or thick soup/ stew) you can mix and match the quantities quite a bit. This recipe served 4; this is a good opportunity to ‘revive’ a non-so-fresh loaf of rustic, hearty bread by placing a chunk or two at the base of a bowl and then pouring on the Ciambotta, or using the bread on the sides in the dish itself.

Vegan Ingredients:
1/2 pound eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon good, fruity extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 large cloves garlic, minced
1 handful fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped finely
3/4 pound new potatoes, or any waxy potato, scrubbed and cut into 1×2-inch pieces
1/2 pound zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
2 small sweet red or yellow peppers, seeded and cut into 1×2-inch strips
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper or hot pepper flakes

Optional: 1/2 cup cooked chick peas/ Garbanzo beans.

Non-Vegan elements that can be included:

A piece of white fish per person (c. 2.5″ x 4″)

One whole local egg dropped in during the last few minutes of cooking.

Directions:

Toss the eggplant cubes in a colander with 2 teaspoons salt. Let it sit in the sink until it starts to sweat out the bitter juices. Rinse them, drain, them and pat dry, squeezing a little.

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion and garlic.

Stir-cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, adding a little water as necessary to prevent sticking and burning. Add half the basil and stir-cook for a minutes, then add the tomatoes. When it comes to a simmer, add the eggplant, potatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Add the zucchini and peppers and simmer 10 minutes more, or until all of the vegetables are almost tender.

Non-Vegan option 1: Stir in 4 small pieces of white fish (c. 2.5″ X 4″ per person)

Non-Vegan option 2: Once the vegetables are almost done, drop in one medium sized egg per person (4 in this case), and simmer until the outer ring of the yolk is cooked.

You can also include a large handful of cooked chickpeas at this point if you are keeping it Vegan.

Taste for salt and pepper, transfer to a warm serving bowl, add the rest of the basil and allow to stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Variations: Use Yukon Gold potatoes instead of the waxy potatoes.

Instead of zucchini, you can use any summer squash, or try using cauliflower or fennel root.

Instead of eggplant, you can use mushrooms.

Makes 4 servings

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