“A tavola non si invecchia” (At the table, you don’t get old)
Italian cooking is a lot of things: fragrant, flavorful, satisfying and on and on. In most cases the ingredients are simple, even home-grown, and just produce some of the finest eating in the world. That’s why you can point to most cities across this country and someone, somewhere will be able to tell you where you can get a good plate of spaghetti or where the best meatball is.
Giambotta is real, down home cooking. It is a meatless dish with only a few ingredients. But here is where time comes into play. This is one of those dishes where if you have the time to invest, it will pay off greatly in the end. So now, get ready for a journey to Italian peasant cooking the likes of which you will find in most homes along the “boot.”
2 large eggplants with fatter bottoms so they have fewer seeds
3 large zucchini
Garlic…no such thing as too much here
1 large onion
1-2 large cans Italian style crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 Fresh basil leaves ripped
Slice the onion into cubes and dice the garlic. Brown both in a large pot with the olive oil. Sweat that down real good. Dice the zucchini into small cubes and add that to the hot pot and stir well. Cube the eggplant the same way and add that. Mix well, gently, and sweat all that down for about 10 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes and salt and stir that well. Let that go for about 15 minutes so it really sets. Add the fresh basil.
Now, the fun part…Put the lid on the pot and lower the heat to its LOWEST setting. I mean the gas is just barely on! Make sure the lid is on tight. Then, GO OUT. Leave the pot on the stove and leave the house. Remember that steam mop, that bracelet, that trip to Target you have been putting off? Go to it. And stay out for about 4 (really!) hours. Yeah, I know. This boy’s crazy.
When you get back home, walk in slowly, take a deep breath and just savor the aroma of what you have just cooked up. Guaranteed your house will smell great and give off a homey, lived in feel. Check on the pot and stir gently. You will see that the vegetables have all melded into a thick, rich aromatic paste that just calls you home. Let it cook. The longer and slower you cook this, the better it will taste.
Now to serve. Ladle some of your giambotta into a large bowl and garnish with some good parmesan cheese, and maybe a little red pepper. Get some good, CRUSTY Italian bread, not the mushy kind, and enjoy. This is a taste sensation that you will appreciate, I guarantee. Everything is soft and satisfying with all good, wholesome, fresh vegetables. In this case I was lucky also because I had some home grown garlic to use, an extra level of pride.
This is a great weeknight meal and an excellent alternative to meat. If you, like so many of us now are trying to limit your intake of meats, this is a perfect substitute. It does take some time, but, believe me, it is well worth it! And as long as we’re locked inside, what better thing to do than to cook something different. You can also vary this a little. One of my sons adds broccoli, kale and whatever else he may have in the house. So don’t be afraid to add your own touch to this recipe because in the end, you will be rewarded for it. Cook with passion and love. Enjoy your cooking and you can never go wrong.
Mangia Bellissima, mangia!
So come! EAT!
You’re too skinny anyway!