Saturday, July 14, 2007

Giambotta (Italian Vegetable Stew)

Promise me not to cringe when reading "stew" at the top. I'm for the most part not a fan of stew. It usually has some sort of bean, rice, or pasta in it and although recipes encourage to save for leftovers, it just turns out to be this slimy gelatin consistency when pulled out of the fridge the next day. The worst is when there is some sort of fatty meat in it and the grease solidifies at the top. I just can't stomach it.

The reason why this recipe intrigued me, was because there was no pasta, rice, or beans in it, it was healthy comfort food, and for the most part very cheap and fast to make. All the meat eaters may scoff seeing that it's a vegetable dish but it can easily be made into a meat dish by adding some meatballs or Italian sausage.

The original recipe by Rachel Ray asks for canned fire roasted tomatoes. While I couldn't find those at the store, I did find "Italian" canned diced tomatoes with oregano, basil and garlic added and instead of using a regular large eggplant, I used 2 Ichiban or Japanese eggplants which are less bitter. Otherwise I followed the recipe almost exactly. I'm curious to maybe try some Japanese sweet potato or Japanese pumpkin in this next time and see what the results may be. The fresh basil really did the trick so I recommend spending the extra money to buy it at the market.

For left overs I recommend getting some whole grain hoagie rolls cut in half length wise and using the same method for them as the cheesy garlic bread then, plop some of the left over stew on the halved roll, top with some provolone cheese and enjoy! The potatoes don't get smooshy at all either.

  • 1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 zuchinni
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or whip out your huge jar of garlic from the fridge)
  • 1 eggplant (or 2 smaller eggplants)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 28ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup stock (veggie or chicken)
  • 1/2 cup torn chopped basil (10-12 leaves)
  • loaf of whole grain bread
  • 1/2 romano or pecorino cheese

Heat soup pot over medium heat add olive oil, bay leaf, garlic and onion (quartered and then thickly sliced). Let them sweat while cutting other veggies into nice hearty chunks. As your cutting just drop them into the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add stock and tomatoes, cook another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in basil (or, hold off and top each bowl of stew off with chopped basil)

Place bread slices in broiler after adding smashed garlic and drizzling with olive oil. Char, take them out and top generously with shredded pecorino. Place them back in the broiler to brown/melt cheese and serve.

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