Giambotta is a Southern Italian vegetable stew usually made in late summer and takes advantage of whatever vegetables are available. It’s pronounced “jamm-baught.” Everyone makes it a little differently and you can vary the recipe based on what vegetables are ripe.
As I said, everyone makes it differently and my family’s recipe is more different than most. My Aunt Vicki’s mother brought her family’s recipe from Italy in the early 1900s. That version was a little fancier. In addition to the vegetables she’d add some bite-sized, cubed pieces of mortadella. Back then mortadella wasn’t so easy to find in America but frankfurters were, so she used them instead. If you think about it, they’re not so very different. My family still makes it the same way. It may seem like a strange combination of ingredients but to me it’s comfort food.
Lightly brown the potatoes in oil in a pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients. Remove the potatoes. Add the onions and cook until soft and transparent but not brown. Add the pepper slices and cook until soft. Add the zucchini and frankfurters and stir and simmer for a few minutes.
Then the tomato puree and basil – you might have to add some water if it’s too thick. Return the potatoes, taste for seasoning and simmer covered on low for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done. Serve it then and it’s even better left-over.
Eggplant and Squash – Lots of people say they don’t like eggplant and squash after only having tasted them in their school cafeteria. If they tried it made with care and the right ingredients they might change their mind.
Eggplant with Mint
This same recipe works for both eggplant and squash (use zucchini). It’s good on sandwiches or in antipasto. If you leave out the mint and vinegar and do everything else the same you can also serve it on pasta with tomato sauce. This isn’t something you’d see in a restaurant but it’s not uncommon in Napolitano home cooking.
The ingredients are approximate. So don’t worry if you have to add some or have any left over. (if you have left over mint make a mint julep)
– only fresh mint works with this recipe –
Cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Lightly brown in oil, don’t drain it, and then layer in a container.
Start with some salt, a few pieces of garlic, some mint and a sprinkle of vinegar in a Tupperware container. Then the first layer of eggplant. Between layers of eggplant add a sprinkle of salt, a dash of vinegar, some mint and a little garlic. When it cools, cover and shake the container so it settles. It should be ready after a couple of days in the fridge. The mint leaves will darken but it will keep refrigerated for a few weeks.
Wash, cut off both ends, cut squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Use a spoon or melon-baller.
Cut into half round slices – about 3/4 inch. Toss with oil, salt, black pepper, chopped parsley and minced garlic. Make sure it’s coated completely with oil.
Put in a baking pan and cook for 30-35 min. in a 375 degree oven. Turn them after 15 minutes. The skin is edible.
I was in the South often enough to develop an appreciation for corn bread but when I buy it here in New York, it’s usually too crumbly and sweet. Not really bread at all but more like a corn muffin. Ok for breakfast but it doesn’t stand up beside real food. I tried a few recipes but couldn’t quite get what I wanted until I asked my friend Lindsey Prokscha, baker extraordinaire, for some help. She made a few tweaks and this is the result.
Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees.
Mix the corn meal, flour, baking powder & soda, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl the whisk egg and buttermilk then mix it with the dry ingredients. Heat the bacon drippings in a 10 inch cast iron skillet until it sizzles, coat skillet, then pour what remains of the bacon fat into the batter and stir it in,
Pour the batter into the hot cast iron skillet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
It should be firm and golden brown on top and pulling away from the sides of the skillet when it’s done.
Usually a side dish but it makes a great vegan sandwich.
Cut of the base of the stem off 2 heads and cut the leaves in half. Soak in sink full of cold water.
Place leaves in a pot, cover with cold water and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large pan with 1 tsp salt, black pepper and garlic. Drain the leaves and add to the pan while they’re still slightly damp. Toss and simmer for a few minutes. Remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with a little more oil in its serving dish.
Rinse broccoli & trim florets and stems. Boil in a salted water until stems are tender and drain.
Add salt and black pepper, thickly sliced cloves of garlic, oil and lemon juice and toss. Chill and serve.
(This is for Bea)
This is a rare edible weed that you seldom find commercially, even at the best markets. Whenever I’ve eaten it, it was only because someone went to a rural area in New Jersey or upstate New York in spring and picked it where it grew wild.
It’s a leafy plant that grows close to the ground. The leaves are inedible. It’s the stems that you want. When cleaned they look something like a stalk of celery but don’t attempt to eat them raw. They have to be boiled to soften them with the thicker ones split down the middle to make them all about 1/2 to 3/4 inch width.
Dry them and dip them in an egg wash. Then coat them with bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper and maybe a little finely chopped parsley. Fry them until golden brown in olive oil. They are worth the trouble
Char peppers over a gas burner set on high, turning frequently, until skin is blackened and blistered on all sides. Transfer to a bag or a bowl and cover tightly; let stand 15 minutes.
Rub the skin off peppers with the back edge of a knife (without rinsing), remove and discard cores and seeds. Cut peppers into smaller pieces. Don’t worry about some of the black char remaining on the pieces
In a bowl, gently toss together peppers, oil, parsley, salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving. You can refrigerate left overs in a jar. Make sure to top it off with oil. Serve at room temperature.
They can be very hot.
Roast jalapenos on an open flame until blackened. Put them in a bag to sweat until cooled. Scrape off most of the blackened skin, slice and remove veins and seeds.
Put them on a piece of bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with garlic power and coarse sea salt.
My father’s family came from Laurenzana, a small town in the hills of Basilicata.
Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Boil in salted water until slightly soft and drain. Fry green pepper in a hot dry pan until it starts to brown. Remove the pepper. Sweat the onions in oil with salt and black pepper then add the potatoes. Sprinkle liberally with powdered red pepperand fry, chopping with spatula until done with brown edges. Return the green peppers.
Caponata I’ll call this caponata for the sake of the search engines but in our dialect it’s gabaladine. It’s a standard component of any good antipasto. This is my Aunt’s recipe which she passed on to my daughter Kristina. My sister Nicki precisely measured all of the ingredients so I’ll turn it over to her.
Her given name was Celeste; we called her Aunt Tootsie, Grandma called her “Toots”. Aunt Tootsie lived with Grandma her whole life (even after she married, twice). Living with Grandma had its advantages for her because she cooked just like Grandma, which was excellent. We would go “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house”, which was in Brooklyn for a holiday or special occasion and Aunt Tootsie did all the cooking under Grandma’s supervision. She always had the phonograph on, singing along with Jimmy Roselli and Louis Prima. She would belt out, “Ti voglio bene” at any given moment. Here is her recipe for caponata.
1 eggplant, unpeeled and cubed
¾ cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4″ pieces
2 tablespoons capers
½ cup pignoli (pine nuts)
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ pound Kalamata olives (pitted and halved)
¼ cup tomato paste
½ cup water
2 tablespoons Sugar
Fry the eggplant in 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. Cook until brown and set pan aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil to another pan and sauté the red peppers until tender then add it to the pan with the eggplant.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and sauté the onions and celery until soft.
Add the capers and give it a quick mix with the vegetables.
Add the tomato paste, sugar, water and vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add to the eggplant and peppers.
Add the pignoli nuts and olives and cook for 5 minutes, stir to blend the flavors.
Note that salt is not included in this recipe. The capers and olives are salty. When it is cooked – TASTE and then add salt and pepper to taste.
Cool before serving. Caponata will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I’m sure it will not be in the refrig for that long. It is so delicious it will not be left over.
This is probably a very different version for most of you. It’s a ‘parmigiana’ recipe with just parmesan cheese, no mozzarella. You can substitute other vegetables or chicken or veal cutlets but no mozzarella. If you look up parmigiana, you’ll see it’s defined as “cooked with Parmesan cheese,” not mozzarella. Give our family recipe (written by my sister Nicki) a try.
It’s light and fresh compared to the parmigiana al ‘Americana you get in most restaurants with that thick rubbery layer of mozzarella on top.
2 medium eggplants cut into ½ in. rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt and 2 grinds of black pepper
1 ½ cup olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups marinara tomato sauce (see note)
½ cup basil cut chiffonade
Remove 3 or 4 strips of skin from the eggplants but leave enough to hold them together. Slice them into rounds and place the slices into a scolo pasta (colander) in layers, sprinkling kosher salt on each layer. Place a heavy plate and a 28 ounce can of tomatoes (you can use any kind of weight but what could be better than a can of tomatoes?) on top for weight and set the scolo pasta in the sink for about ½ hour.
After the eggplants have drained, squeeze out the excess water and dredge the slices in the flour and salt and pepper mixture. Fry the slices in olive oil until browned on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Coat a baking dish (I prefer a high round dish) with a ladle-full of marinara sauce, then a layer of eggplant and a generous sprinkling of cheese topped with another ladle-full of sauce and some torn basil leaves. Repeat this process until you finish the eggplant. Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Note: Marinara Sauce– Not all Italian tomato sauce is Marinara sauce. This 3 ingredient sauce (not counting salt and pepper) is simple enough to make on a small fishing boat, hence the name – mariner. This sauce has multiple uses: delicious with pasta (we used to have this meatless sauce when we were kids on Friday nights when meat was not an option), the perfect sauce for eggplant parmigiana, eggs in purgatory, etc.
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (cut in large pieces so they can easily be removed)
1 ½ lbs of fresh tomatoes or 1 28oz con of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
Salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Lightly brown garlic in the olive oil. Add about a pound and a half of chopped fresh or one large can of crushed tomatoes (approx. 28 oz.). Add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer ½ hour on medium heat and it’s done.
One last note – I have nothing against mozzarella. I love it fresh and cold, especially on a sandwich with ripe tomatoes and salt and pepper. I just think it’s been overused by cooks in Italian-American restaurants to the point where non-Italians think that’s the way all Italians eat. And it isn’t.
Summer Tomato Salad Aunt Caroline would pick the basilico and tomatoes in her Staten Island kitchen garden just before she made this Summer Tomato Salad. The ice cubes were necessary because the tomatoes would still be hot from the sun.
4 medium tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup torn basil leaves
¼ cup olive oil
5 or 6 ice cubes
Cut narrow wedges around the core, discarding the core. Cut each wedge in half and place in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss and let sit for 20 minutes. Before serving add the oil, basil and ice cubes, then toss again.