It’s that time of year again when spring is just beyond the horizon. Soon we’ll be able to leave the house without bulky sweaters and coats. This means, of course, we won’t be able to hide those holiday pounds anymore.
Soooo, let’s do something about it NOW!
Just because I’m slimming down doesn’t mean I’m about to sacrifice taste. There are plenty of delicious meals one can prepare to keep the calories at bay. Giambotta is one such recipe. It’s a delicious stew that’s quick to put together and makes enough to last for several days.
GIAMBOTTA – makes about 9 cups (I forgot to measure)
- 1 eggplant
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb russet potatoes, chopped into 1/2″ cubes (don’t peel)
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 zucchinis
- 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 T tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/3 cup fresh basil, divided (USE FRESH!)
- 1 T dried oregano (or 1/3 cup fresh)
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- optional: hard cheese such as Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan, grated
TIP: Don’t leave out the tomato paste – it adds flavor. You may be reluctant to open a can for just 1 tablespoon. As Queen Of Freeze, my advice is to spoon out 1 tablespoon mounds of the remaining tomato paste onto a piece of waxed paper and freeze. Once frozen, roll the waxed paper around the paste blobs and place in a freezer bag. That way you’ll have tomato paste for future recipes.
Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1/2″ cubes. Place in a sieve and sprinkle on 1½ tsp of the salt. Toss cubes and salt together with your hands. The salt will draw out some of the water from the eggplant. Let drain for about 1/2 hour.
While eggplant is draining, chop the tomatoes, discarding the stem ends and any peels or imperfections. Also, chop the onion and potato.
Into a Dutch oven, heat 2 T of the olive oil over medium/high heat. Add in the drained eggplant, onion, and potatoes. Sauté until potatoes just start to brown – about 7 minutes. Lower flame to medium and shove the veggies to the sides of the pot, leaving the center empty. Place the tomato paste in empty center and pour 1 T olive oil over it. Cook this mixture 2 minutes in the center, stirring often. This will bring out the flavor the tomato.
After cooking the paste, stir it into the veggies. Pour in 2 cups of water, scraping up the fond (the burnt bits stuck to the bottom of the pot). Add in the tomatoes (including the juice) and bring to boil. Cover pot and lower heat to maintain a simmer. Cook 20-25 minutes, just until potatoes are done (test by poking with fork).
While this is cooking, chop the zucchinis and bell peppers. Set aside.
Chop the basil and make a paste by mixing 1/3 cup basil (save the remaining 1 cup for later) with the oregano, 2 T olive oil, garlic, and pepper flakes.
In a skillet, heat 1 T olive oil over medium/high flame. Add in the zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook 10-12 minutes, until browned. Shove the zucchini and peppers to sides (like with the eggplant), leaving the center clear. Place the basil paste in center and cook 1 minute. Mix the paste and zucchini/pepper mix together. Pour into a bowl until ready to use.
Add 1/4 cup water into the now empty skillet and, over high heat, scrap fond off bottom. Save.
When eggplant mixture is done, add in the zucchini/red peppers and fond water from skillet. Cover pot and let sit off-heat for 20 minutes to combine flavors.
When ready to serve, stir in remaining 1 cup chopped basil. Top servings with grated cheese, if desired.