This was a favorite of my mom’s to make during the summer with her garden zucchini and squash, and it is one of our favorite vegetable dishes now.
In the summer, we have several go to recipes for eating our vegetables, such as pisto Manchego, Caponata or Ciambotta. All involve fresh vegetables, and differ in the spicing and process. Here, rather than roasting, everything is simplified and cooked in one pan, because I am, at heart, a lazy homecook.
My children love this, and often ate this during phases when they wouldn’t eat much other vegetables. They thought it tasted like pizza, which I suppose makes some sense. It is fairly easy to throw together, and very satisfying. Feel free to sub out diced tomatoes for fresh, if you are busy. But of course, it is best with fresh tomatoes and a good quality parmesan.
I have had several versions of this, but this remains my favorite. Ciambotta is best in the summer with fresh vegetables and basil. You can dress this up a bit by adding a little red wine (during the cooking of the garlic & onions), or a bay leaf to add depth, or my personal favorite – adding an old parmesan rind to mixture for extra flavor. Adding potatoes is also a traditional way this is made. Personally, I am often very lazy and don’t add potatoes or eggplant, as they make the preparation longer.
Another idea is to blend this up and make it a sofrito or base for future dishes and sauces. It is surprisingly versatile. If I have fresh basil, I prefer to use it. However, if I have dried herbs, I like this with oregano. Serve this with fish, or some Italian sausage for an excellent meal.
You will need:
- 2 zucchinis, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1 summer squash, chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 small onion or 2 small shallots (I prefer these), sliced thin
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 lb of campari or roma tomatoes cut into bite size pieces OR 1 can of diced tomatoes.
- 3 tbs Olive oil
- fresh basil or oregano (2 tsp of dried herbs if you do not have fresh)
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- Good quality parmesan (the older the better)
- Optional ideas
- splash of red wine* (optional)
- 1 small eggplant, chopped* (optional)
- 3 small scrubbed potatoes, chopped into bite-size pieces (optional)
- parmesan rind (optional)
- * Only if using eggplant or potatoes. You will need an extra half an hour to prepare these ingredients, so if you want to include them, begin your prep here. Slice the eggplants and arrange them on a tray. Sprinkle them with salt and leave them for about half an hour to release their liquid. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Chop into bite-sized pieces. Chop potatoes into small pieces and cook for 15 minutes before adding it to the stew, this will prevent the rest of the vegetables from becomming too soggy while waiting for them to cook down.
- Coat a skillet with olive oil and heat on medium. Saute onions in olive oil several minutes until they soften. Add garlic and saute for two more minutes. Grind or add a little salt to the onions and garlic to release moisture. Deglaze with a little splash of wine if you have some on hand.
- Add zucchini and squash (and potatoes and eggplant, if using) and mix it well with the onion and garlic. Add red pepper flakes, basil/oregano and a little more salt to taste. Cook for 8-10 minutes. Add in tomatoes (and parmesan rind, if using) and cook down for about ten minutes to fifteen minutes until everything is reduced and soft. You don’t want to overcook the squash or zucchini, so there should still be firmness.
- Top with fresh grated parmesan.