giambotta ~ italy’s curry?

giambottaDon’t let the title fool you ~ this isn’t an Italindian fusion dish.  I decided on this title only because, much like curry, giambotta has more variations than there are regions of the country.  And, like curry, there are no hard rules that define it.  Curry means sauce, and giambotta means mixed up or big mess; in both cases there’s a lot of room for interpretation, which is exciting for a cook.

I went online to find out how to spell the word because, in my experience, most southern Italians speak a dialect which will render the original spelling incomprehensible.  Once the search results came up, I found there are lots of people who love this summer stew and have published their family recipe for the world to enjoy.

This is my personal version; nothing from an old relative, just based on my memory of what it tasted like as a kid, combined with my current cooking style.

I made a double batch of this today, as it will last about a week in the fridge and can be served with lots of different things.  Below are the directions for a single batch, so some of the ingredients have odd measurements.  If you have a big family or you like a lot of leftovers, then doubling it is the way to go.

ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced or microplaned
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, whole
  • 1/2 of a 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, or to taste
  • s&p, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • splash white wine
  • pinch chile flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • a handful each of fresh basil and Italian parsley, torn or roughly chopped

directions:

  • In a medium stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add onion and a pinch of salt
  • Saute about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent; add garlic
  • Stir in the Italian seasoning, white wine, lemon juice, a generous pinch black pepper, the bay leaf, chile flakes
  • In the following order, add veggies one at a time, sprinkling each layer with salt:  potatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cherry tomatoes
  • Without stirring, lower heat, cover pot and allow to steam cook for about 15 minutes
  • Uncover, stir well then add vegetable stock and canned tomatoes
  • Stir well to incorporate; turn up heat and bring to boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes or so
  • Take off heat and let sit on stove, preferably for a few hours, to allow flavors to meld
  • Add more s&p if needed; add torn basil and parsley

giambotta Italian stew

It’s delicious topped with grated parmesan and/or romano.  If you’re partial to some zing, try a few diced pickled cherry peppers like the little guy pictured in the top photo.

This version has a bit of broth to it, which can be eliminated by cutting out the vegetable stock and replacing the diced tomatoes with more fresh ones.  I thought I’d make it this way because I can have stew with crusty bread one night, then tossed with buttered pasta another night.   I can also use a slotted spoon and have it as a side dish with fish.

Lots of options in both the preparation and serving of this nutritious classic.  Abbondanza!

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