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.


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


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.

Chick pea stew

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This unusual dish is a slightly tweaked version of the recipe found in Michele Sicolone’s 1,000 Italian Recipes.

Sadly, she doesn’t say where it comes from – it has all the hallmarks of some sort of regional food.

You could call such a dish homely or rustic.

You could also call it unappealing or even ugly.

I’ve found with such dishes that the trimmings – some chopped parsley, grated Italian cheese, VOO drizzled when the stew is in the bowl, good bread on the side – make all the difference.

Of course, it tastes better than it looks.

Plain but yummy …


2 cups chick peas,

1 head silverbeet

1 onion

1 clove garlic



virgin olive oil



1. Soak chick peas over night

2. Next day, boil chick peas in enough water to cover until cooked, drain but keep cooking water.

3. Strip silverbeet leaves from stems.

At this point, the recipe is unclear whether, when it comes time to cooking the silverbeet,  it should be dry or still holding water from being rinsed.

In this case, the silverbeet is definitely gritty and in need of a wash, so … water it is.

4. Chop onion semi-finely. Peel garlic but do not chop.

5. Fry onion and garlic until golden – about 10 minutes.

6. Add shredded silverbeet and cook for 10 minutes until wilted.

7. Add chick peas and enough of the cooking to cover and then a bit more.

8. Add salt, pepper.

9. Cook and cover for 30 minutes.

10. By this time, some of the chick peas will have started to disintegrate. Mash some more of them with your wooden spoon against the side of the pot.

10. Throw in chopped parsley, turn off the heat and let the stew rest for five minutes

11. Place in bowls and drizzle with olive oil.

12. Eat.

Sadly, unlike many of the other pulse dishes we cook, this one doesn’t freeze well at all.

As we eat, I can tell Bennie isn’t digging on this – I presume because it isn’t the most kid-friendly stew going around.

“In actual fact,” he says, “it’s because I’m not exactly keen on chick peas …”

Sheesh – and here’s me thinking I know my own kid!

I dunno – maybe he did and now he doesn’t.

He does, however, dig on the fact it doesn’t freeze well!