Simple cooking is often the best. Summertime and the abundance of fresh vegetables call out for dishes like Cianfotta — a Southern Italian country-style vegetable stew. The launching point was a fine cookbook from my library by Viana La Place — Verdure, Vegetables Italian Style. Here is her recipe:
With a dish like this, improvisation is not just allowed, it’s encouraged. So I drew on my favorites available that evening, and made the dish with these elements:
- Olive oil, garlic, spring onions, leek, celery stalk, rosemary, saffron
- zucchini, eggplant (diced), yellow bell pepper (strips), Yukon Gold potato
- tomatoes, jalapeno, borlotti beans (Italian, canned)
- 2 cups of Asian greens, sauteed and chopped
Using a wide sauteuse, I cooked these together in a few stages, pretty much as she outlines in her recipe. Results were delicious; also good the next day, and enhanced by the addition of capers packed in salt, rinsed and warmed up with the vegetables.
Of course, one of the glories of Italian cooking is that everyone has a different version (or even a name) for any particular dish. Since Cianfotta (also known as Ciambotta) is from Naples, it is worth reading what Arthur Schwartz (the maven of Neapolitan cooking) has to say on the subject.
Then, you can roll your own. Buon appetito.