The Fusia/Fuscą Family  



Ciambotta - Southern Italian Vegetable Stew

This hearty side dish but can also make a delicious dinner by itself with some crusty bread.

1/2 lb. eggplant, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
a large handful of fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
1 lb. ripe plum tomatoes, seeded peeled and chopped  (or use a 14-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped)
3/4 lb. new potatoes, or any waxy potato, scrubbed and cut into 1x2-inch pieces
1/2 lb. zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 large or 2 small sweet red or yellow peppers, seeded and cut into 1x2-inch strips
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Toss the eggplant cubes in a colander with 2 teaspoons salt. Let it sit in the sink until it starts to sweat out the juices. Rinse them, drain, them and pat dry, squeezing a little. This will prevent the eggplant from absorbing too much oil.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, and celery. Stir-cook over high heat for about 5 minutes, adding a little water if necessary to prevent sticking and burning.

Add the eggplant and a little more olive oil and stir fry for about 5 minutes.  

Add the tomatoes. When it comes to a simmer, add 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 15 minutes more, or until all of the vegetables are tender. Add the basil.

Taste for salt and pepper, transfer to a warm serving bowl, and allow to stand 15 minutes before serving.