This recipe is for an Italian vegetable stew called ciambotta (also referred to giambotta), which is popular in the Naples region of Italy. Neopolitan ciambotta is slow cooked and is typically made from eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, and lots of fresh basil. This typically serves as a side dish, but ciambotta can easily serve as a main meal.
Ciambotta: The ingredients in one photo
Here is a snapshot of everything you will need (with the exception of the olive oil)! Doesn’t that look yummy and super healthy? The beauty of this dish is that you can customize it to your liking and the ingredients to this dish vary by region in Italy. Although the most traditional ciambotta dish from Naples includes the ingredients shown here (less the parley), the recipe changes from one region to another. Feel free to add more or less tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, etc etc.
The Art of Making Ciambotta
Perhaps the hardest (if you can call it that!) part about making ciambotta is cutting all the vegetables. These vegetables were cut by my mother. When I remarked what a great job she did, she said that she had lots and lots of practice doing this in Italy, as this was a typical meal. Aside from cutting the vegetables, it’s mostly a hands off process as you wait for the stew to cook down.
You start by cooking the vegetable that takes the longest time to cook, in this case, the peppers, down to the least amount of time.
Some people actually cook each vegetable separately, just so, and then add everything to a baking dish for final cooking in the oven.
The finished product!
You’ll know your ciabotta is finished when everything is very tender and the flavors have blended. At this point, take a taste and check if more seasoning are needed! One you see how good this is for you and how low calorie it is, you will eat without guilt!
Tips to make a good ciambotta
- Use fresh vegetables
- Chop your vegetables in similar sizes
- Slow cook everything until super tender
- Season at the end of cooking with extra basil (on this particular day I added parsley too but basil is the clear winner here)
- Use a good quality olive oil to start things off
For more information on ciambotta see the Wiki
- olive oil to taste
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 medium bell peppers chopped
- 1 eggplant chopped
- 3 small zucchini chopped
- 6 small tomatoes chopped
- 3 medium potatoes cooked for about 10 minutes and chopped
- 1 bunch basil
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional but highly suggested!
- In a large deep frying pan or saute pan, coat the bottom with olive oil, and begin to cook onion, peppers, and garlic over medium high heat. Cook for about 4 or 5 minutes
- Add zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes, season liberally with salt and pepper, and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so.
- Add potatoes and basil, reduce heat to very low, and then cover pan and continue simmering for another 40 to 45 minutes (check periodically and if too much liquid accumulates from vegetables, place lid askew so the liquid cooks off a bit.
- After 40 to 45 minutes, check seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if desired. Top with fresh basil and serve