So, a week ago, I had one of my molars extracted. Apparently it is very painful to live with a cracked tooth, made even worse with an abscess. Ouch. So, I’ve been doped up on antibiotics, probiotics and pain meds. I’ve also been living off of oatmeal and pudding for the last week.
So, apologize that I haven’t posted anything new for a couple of weeks.
But fear not, dear reader, I’m back with a Bang! This weeks lunch is going to be epic. We’re talking bigger than big. Flavor-packed Italian Stew.
Zucchini, and eggplant, and onions, oh my! Throw in some red and yellow peppers some whole tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh oregano and a dash of olive oil…..and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an Italian Kitchen.
Oh yeah, it’s totally vegetarian, Bonus!
Without further adieu, may I present
Italian Vegetable Stew (a.k.a. – Ciambotta)
courtesy of Sweet Peas Kitchen
For the Pestata
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
For the Stew
- 12 oz eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 tsp salt, divided plus more to taste
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (no salt added variety)
- 2 cups water
- 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained with juice reserved and chopped coarse
- 2 medium zucchini, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 cup shredded fresh basil
To make the Pestata: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process all ingredients until finely ground, about a minute.
For the Stew:
- In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 1/2 tsp of salt.
- On a microwave safe plate, place two paper towels and spread eggplant in a single layer.
- Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, 8-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
- Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large Dutch oven over high heat, until shimmering. Add eggplant, onion, and potatoes; cook stirring frequently until eggplant browns and surface of potatoes becomes translucent.
- Push vegetables to sides of pot and add 1 Tbsp of oil and tomato paste to clearing. Cook paste, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water and chopped tomatoes and juice. scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium, cover, and gently simmer until eggplant is completely broken down and potatoes are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in skillet over high heat until smoking.
- Add zucchini, bell peppers, and 1/2 tsp of salt; cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Push vegetables to sides of skillet and Pestata and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Stir Pestata into vegetables. Cook another 3 minutes.
- Transfer vegetables to Dutch oven and remove from heat.
- Cover and let set for 20 minutes to allow flavors to meld.