Ciambotta

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This rustic Italian vegetable stew would go real swell served cold with fish, chicken or sausages at a barbecue, but we only ever have it as a light main meal when we’re a little weary of heavier, richer fare.

This is based on a recipe found in Michele Scicolone’s 1,000 Italian Recipes.

Her recipe calls for one red and one yellow capsicum.

For this brew, I went with two red, as the yellows at the place where I did the shopping were more than $12 a kilogram and looking a bit sad on it.

I used kipfler potatoes, thinking the discs would go just right with the other vegetables, but they took too long to cook, so we’ll stick to our usual desiree in the future.

This is so simple and easy to cook – it basically takes care of itself.

And the way the tomatoes and – to some extent, the eggplant – break down to form a terrifically unctuous sauce that soaks into the spuds is fabulous.

In fact, it makes even a muddling, middling cook such as myself think I’m pretty hot sh… stuff.

While it was cooking, I went looking for other recipes, and was surprised – I don’t know why – to find Scicolone has a blog.

And as she says on it: “I’m always amazed at how good it turns out.”

She lists a few other additions and variations – green beans, courgettes, more elaborate seasonings, cheese or eggs or basil at the end and so on.

But once you start talking about courgettes, I start thinking ratatouille.

No surprise then that further sleuthing revealed there’s little or no difference between the two dishes.

Goes great as leftovers gently warmed up or as sandwich stuffing.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium onion

4 plum tomatoes

2 potatoes

1 medium eggplant

2 red capsicums, or 1 red and 1 yellow

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil

METHOD

1. Roughly chop onion and cook in olive oil on low-medium heat until soft.

2. While the onion is cooking, chop remaining vegetables into bite-size pieces.

3. Add vegetables to cooked onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook covered on low heat for about 40 minutes – or no longer than when the potatoes start falling apart a bit. Gently stir occasionally, as potato pieces can stick.

4. Eat.