A great way to use fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant, ciambotta is a Southern Italian summer vegetable stew, and can be made with any veggies you have on hand.
Ciambotta, or jambot as it’s called in my family, is best described as an Italian vegetable stew. Some recipes you may find for this Italian specialty harken closer to a soup, to be served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. But in my family, ciambotta has always been a slow cooked medley of vegetables that become tender and roasted in flavor, almost exclusively served along side crusty bread for dipping. And it’s ample use of fresh vegetables makes it the perfect recipe for taking on all of my garden produce!
Ciambotta is one of those dishes that I’ve been eating my entire life at family parties. But like certain other foods that were staples in my grandparents cooking, we almost solely used the Brooklyn Italian slang for it: “jambot.” Much like “gabagool” is capicola and “schcadol” is escarole, ciambotta was exclusively jambot and until almost embarrassingly recently I never knew it by any other name. My uncles Larry and Mick have always made particularly good versions of this vegetable delicacy, and Larry recently gave the perfect description of ciambotta to me: start with garlic, oil, and onion, and add literally any other vegetables you want. That’s what makes this recipe so great. You can use whatever vegetables you happen to have sitting in your fridge for too long, or in my case growing out of control in your garden, and put them too good use. And when I say you can use any vegetables to make ciambotta, I mean literally ANY; broccoli, string beans, mushrooms, squash, you name it, it can be used in this recipe.
As versatile as ciambotta may be, in my family it’s almost always been made with a few very specific ingredients (but also with countless variations): onions and garlic (always as the base), tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini or eggplant. This version of ciambotta, what I’m calling my garden ciambotta, is made with bushels of fresh tomatoes and zucchini, and of course lots of fresh herbs from the garden as well. I also threw a few mushrooms in there, just because they add a wonderful savory flavor, a great compliment to the sweet tomatoes. While some ciambotta is more similar to a soup or stew, this style is cooked down for close to an hour, giving it loads or slow roasted flavor, a wonderful tender texture that almost dissolves in your mouth upon first bite.
Cook this ciambotta for less times for a more stew like consistency, or follow my recipe and serve it alongside bread as the perfect appetizer or party snack. And of course feel free to replace any and all of these vegetables with whichever ones you may have on hand – although if I were you, I would NOT leave out the tomatoes, those are my favorite part! And stay tuned for more fantastic garden recipes!
A southern Italian summer vegetable stew, this ciambotta recipe can easily be adopted for any vegetables you have on hand.
Author: The Two Bananas
Recipe type: Appetizer
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini, cubed
- 4 fresh tomatoes or 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb mushrooms of choice, sliced
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Basil and parsley to taste
- In a large, deep skillet, sauté onions in olive oil over low heat until tender and beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes until cooked down slightly. Add cubes zucchini and cook down another 10 minutes.
- Divide tomatoes in half; add half to blender or food processor and blend until they become a smooth liquid. Dice the other half roughly. Add diced tomatoes and tomato juice to the pan with the veggies and cook down until desired consistency is achieved; 15-20 minutes for a more loose soup/stew like consistency, 30 minutes for a thick, spread-like consistency.