Ciambotta, also known as giambotta or cianfotta, is a hearty stew made from fresh summer vegetables. Zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, are stewed together in this dish that needs nothing other than a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, a handful of fresh herbs, and some crusty Italian bread.
Never has there been a dish that pays homage to Italian summer vegetables as perfectly as ciambotta. Think of it as Italian ratatouille.
It is full of complex flavors and textures, thanks to the variety of vegetables and herbs used.
But what I love most is its inherent dualities.
Ciambotta is hearty like a stew, but because it is made only from vegetables, there is a lightness to it.
Summer months are typically too hot for soup and stews, but since ciambotta is made using the vegetables of summer, it is always welcome on our table, even on the most sultry of nights.
This bowlful of contradictions is one of my favorite things ever. And I know you will love it too.
Depending on where you, or your ancestors are from, you may have different ways of saying or spelling ciambotta.
Giambotta, giambot, cianfotta, ciambotta Calabrese, or ciambotta Napoletana, are all acceptable, and they all loosely refer to the same dish.
You may find variations of this summer stew that includes Italian sausage. Chicken thighs can also be stewed along with the veggies.
My recipe has its own variation. And if you know me at all, you may be able to guess what that is.
That's right, cherry peppers. Traditionally, cherry peppers are not used in ciambotta, but I find that it gives this stew a little something extra. The subtle heat and the slight vinegar taste really enhance the flavors of the stew.
How to make ciambotta
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by chopping your vegetables: cube the zucchini, eggplant, and potatoes. Chop the carrots and onion. Chop the bell peppers and cubanelle peppers into 1" squares. Remove the stems and seeds from the cherry peppers and give them a rough chop. In a pot or Dutch oven, saute the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium, and add the eggplant, cooking for 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
- Add the peppers, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and cherry peppers. Stir frequently to coat the vegetables with olive oil.
- After about 20 minutes, add the tomatoes and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. Note: I used 6 fresh Roma tomatoes that were blanched and deseeded for this recipe, however, for convenience's sake, I recommend using a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes that have been drained and hand crushed. The instructions in the recipe card are for canned tomatoes.
- Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and allow the vegetables to cook until very soft, about 30-40 minutes. If at any time the veggies seem too dry, add some water to loosen them up and prevent burning.
- When the vegetables are soft, season the ciambotta with salt and pepper to taste. Add the basil and mint and give it a stir. Finish by drizzling more extra virgin olive oil on top. Serve with crusty Italian bread and generous amounts of grated cheese. Enjoy!
More summer vegetable dishes
If you like ciambotta, it's safe to say you probably enjoy your veggies. Here are some of my favorite vegetable dishes using the veggies that are most abundant in the summer.
- Potatoes and peppers - Calabrian-style side dish that's perfect with a loaf of Italian bread.
- Roasted eggplant with tomato sauce - Eggplant topped with marinara and ricotta salata.
- Zucchini alla parmigiana - Thin slices of zucchini topped with sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
- Peperonata - Sweet pepper relish that's perfect on crusty bread.
- Pasta with cherry tomatoes - Simple pasta with garden cherry tomatoes and basil.
- Eggplant caponata - Classic sweet and sour Italian condiment with the Sicilian addition of raisins and pine nuts.
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- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 medium zucchini cubed
- 1 medium eggplant cubed
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- 2 large bell peppers chopped into 1" squares
- 1 large Italian frying pepper (cubanelle) chopped into 1" squares
- 3 medium cherry peppers seeded and stems removed, chopped, optional
- 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes cubed
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes drained and hand crushed
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint chopped
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for finishing
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large high walled pot or Dutch oven saute the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Turn the heat to medium and add in the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add in the peppers, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, and cherry peppers. Stir frequently to coat the vegetables with olive oil.
- After about 20 minutes add in the tomatoes and keep heat at a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and let the vegetables cook until very soft (about 30-40 minutes more). If at any time the veggies seem too dry add a bit of water to loosen things up and prevent burning.
- When the vegetables are soft, season the ciambotta with salt and pepper to taste. Add in all of the basil and mint and give it a stir. Drizzle more extra virgin olive oil on top before serving. Serve with crusty Italian bread and grated cheese. Enjoy!
- Recipe makes 6 large bowls or 8 moderate-sized portions.
- Ciambotta can be served on the thicker or thinner side. For more of a soupy texture add more water.
- Cherry peppers are optional but give the stew such a wonderful flavor.
- Serve with chicken or sausage for a full meal and extra protein.
- Refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheat in the microwave or over medium-low heat on the stovetop.