Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ciambotta – Southern Italian Vegetable Stew

If you aren’t Italian you may not know what ciambotta is. It is nothing more than a southern Italian vegetable stew that normally contains beans in addition to vegetables. It always has a tomato base and a little heat from red peppers. I used the traditional Sicilian vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, garlic, Sicilian wine, and my favorite hot crushed peppers).

We are trying to reduce our sodium intake to see if it has any impact on blood pressure for us. In order to keep the salt down I am relying more on acid (wine, lemon and vinegar) to finish our dishes.

Ciambotta – Southern Italian Vegetable Stew
Makes 4 hearty servings


1 cup mini fava beans, soaked
4+ cups of water to cook the fava beans
2 bay leaves to add to the bean cooking water to improve the digestibility of the beans
1 red onion, peeled and finely minced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (allow to stand 10 minutes so the allicin can develop)
½ tablespoon canola or olive oil
2 medium eggplant, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
28 ounces diced canned tomatoes
14 ounces tomato sauce
½ cup of dry red wine (I used Nero D’Avola)
1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed removed and caps thinly sliced
12 kalamata olives, minced
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
salt and pepper, to taste


Cook the beans in the water with the bay leaves until the beans are tender, but so long that they are mushy. The exact amount of time this will take depends on the age of the beans and how long you soaked them. If you don’t want to cook your own dried beans use a can of cooked white beans (no salt added) that you have rinsed to remove the “metallic taste” of the beans.

While the beans are cooking you can make the red sauce. Sauté the onions and garlic in the oil until the vegetables are soft. Add the diced eggplant and zucchini and stir to even distribute the vegetables. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until the eggplant and zucchini begin to release their water. You may need to add the ¼ teaspoon of salt to encourage the water to come out of the veggies. Once the eggplant and zucchini begin to soften add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, red wine, shiitakes, olives, hot crushed peppers and cooked beans and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes).

To serve add the vinegar, fresh oregano and rosemary and cook for a minute to encourage the aroma of the fresh herbs to bloom. Taste the stew for seasoning and correct the salt and pepper as required. Julienne the fresh basil and add that to the bowl just before serving.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 367.18
Calories From Fat (16%) - 60.1

Total Fat - 6.86g
Saturated Fat - 0.53g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 853.25mg
Potassium - 2081.77mg
Total Carbohydrates - 61.77g
Fiber - 25.02g
Sugar - 19.9g
Protein - 17.42g


Dinner tonight was definitely a comfort food meal for me. I love this type of meal when the weather is cold and rainy.

You may find this stew needs more salt. If you add it to the top of the dish when serving that also helps to keep the total sodium level in check.


  1. This sounds like something I could eat every day and never tire of.

  2. Rose,

    Like all soups or stews this beter the second day. I make many variations of this recipe. The only constants are the tomatoes, beans and hot crushed peppers. Everything else changes every time I make it. It makes a great fall or winter dish since it is very hearty. Sometimes we serve it over polenta, millet or brown rice. It is also good with small soup pasta.


  3. I think I'm gonna have to make it next week for dinner. :)))

  4. Rose,

    Your mom didn't make it when you were growing up? It is pronounced like the C is a G sound (or at least that is how those of Southern Italian heritage prounounce it).

    I can't wait to hear what you think.


  5. No, mom never made this; the Italian side was my dad's family; his mom shared her recipes with my mom, who is a great cook but not Italian in heritage.

    Dad's family was from Potenza, and most of them died before I was born so I only know a small bit of their world.

  6. Rose,

    I didn't see that coming. From what you have said mom did really well with the Italian food for a non-Italian. I really assumed she was the Italian part of your family. Mom must be a fantastic cook. You don't see too many non-Italians making braciole.

    I haven't made it to Potenza yet or I would share photos with you. My Italian heritage is Roman. We have been to much of Italy but not any farther south than the Amalfi Coast. Sorry.




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