Ciambottola, a traditional summer stew from the region of Campania, has been a staple in our household for as long as I can remember.
Despite our atrocious weather this summer, my mum's garden has begun to bear fruit and it looks like she will have a bumper crop of zucchini. True peasant food at its simplest, ciambottola takes full advantage of the fresh produce available at this time of the year.
While you can certainly make this with supermarket zucchini, it is so much better with farm fresh, which are so much more fragrant and delicious. Redolent of tomatoes, fresh zucchini and basil, it fills the house with the intoxicating aroma I associate with lazy summer days as it bubbles away on the stove.
Ciambottola is so ubiquitous in Campania that the traditional ingredients vary from town to town and each cook has her own favourite recipe but the constants are zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes. Some like it more soupy, others prefer it to be more like a stew. I'm in the latter camp and this is my version.
Serves 4 - 6
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
2-3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
10-15 cherry tomatoes
5 leaves of basil
salt to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add, in layers, the potatoes first, then the zucchini and finally the tomatoes. Add 3/4 cup of water, salt to taste and tear the basil leaves over the top. Do not stir.
Cover and bring to a simmer, lower heat and cook on a slow simmer until the potatoes are tender (approximately 15 minutes). Stir all the ingredients together and serve with crusty bread and grated parmesan cheese.