To make this big bowl of vegetables, called ciambotta, on a weeknight, I hit the salad bar. That's where the already-prepped celery, red bell pepper, onion and zucchini are; either eyeball the amounts or borrow the deli scale. If I'm really pressed for time, I'll even pick up a bag of microwavable green beans, which are trimmed and ready to go.
The result is textured, savory and healthful. If desired, toss in a few teaspoons of chopped marjoram or thyme at the end of cooking, or grate some Parmesan cheese over each portion just before serving.
We left the recipe at its original serving size to create a vegetarian option for a Make It, Freeze It, Take It meal (see related recipes in today's edition). The leftovers from dinner tonight can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Serve with crusty bread.
Servings: 6 - 8
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 medium carrots
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- 1 3/4 cups sliced red bell pepper
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups sliced red or white onions
- 1/4 cup sliced celery
- 8 ounces green beans
- 2 medium potatoes, preferably California Gold or Yukon Gold (do not use red bliss or waxy potatoes)
- 2 small eggplants (1 pound total)
- 1 cup water, plus more as needed
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, with their juices
- 14 to 16 ounces sliced zucchini
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Leaves from a few sprigs of marjoram or thyme (optional)
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat while you prep the carrots: Peel them, then cut them first lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch slices. Mince the garlic. Coarsely chop the red bell pepper strips and sliced onions. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and onions to the pot; cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are pale golden.
Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Trim the green beans and cut them into 2-inch pieces. Add a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water, then add the beans and cook for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender and bright green. Use a skimmer to transfer to a colander. While the cooking water returns to a boil, cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces (discard the skin, if desired), then add to the water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or just until tender.
Cut the eggplants into 1-inch pieces, discarding the skin and pieces with many seeds. Add to the pot of vegetables, along with the water; stir to incorporate. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, reserving their juices; add the tomatoes and their juices to the pot along with the red bell pepper pieces and stir to combine.
When the potatoes are done, use the skimmer to transfer them to the colander with the beans. Let the cooking water return to a boil, then add the zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Use the skimmer to transfer them directly to the pot of vegetables, shaking off any excess water, then add the blanched beans and potatoes; mix well. Cover and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally; some vegetables will be very soft and some will be closer to al dente. If the stew seems too thick, add water to achieve the desired consistency. Taste, and add up to 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper. Mix well.
Remove from the heat; if desired, mince some marjoram or thyme and toss into the stew. Divide among individual bowls and serve hot, with Parmesan cheese passed at the table.
Adapted from "Gourmet Today," edited by Ruth Reichl (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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