As published in Conshy Courier, September 2016 by Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PA-C

When summer gives you an abundance of veggies, make Giambotta! Giambotta is an Italian, vegetable stew recipe. When I smell giambotta cooking, the aromas bring me back to my family home, surrounded by warmth and love. I can close my eyes after taking a bite and I am immediately brought back to my home with my parents talking, my brothers playing, and our dog under the table [waiting for someone to feed her table scraps]. For good reason, this recipe has continued to be an adult favorite of mine.  It is simple, beginner level of easy, and takes only one pot to make… just one! This means more flavor and less clean-up. Second, the recipe details aren’t all that important. Yes, you read correctly! That's because once the basics of the recipe are understood, you can omit, add, double, or change the recipe based upon what is seasonal and what is available. I love that! This means, you can add the most fresh, locally grown, nutritious produce to your giambotta. 

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This recipe has layers and layers of flavor and is jammed packed with nutrients and everything that you can feel good about eating. Studies show that incorporating plant based foods into your meals can lead to decreased risk for heart disease, recurrent heart attack or stroke, decreased risk for diabetes, longer life span, healthier weights, and decreased risk of developing cancer.  In fact, in the Framingham Heart Study, showed a significant [this means truly or strongly] inverse association between total vegetable and fruit consumption and incidence of ischemic stroke among a group of men. Tomatoes, especially in the cooked form, are high in lycopene. Lycopene is a potent carotenoid antioxidant that helps protect our body’s tissues against damage.  It also helps to prevent certain types of cancers. And if that wasn't enough goodness for you, here's another benefit to eating more veggies. Both fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and water as compared to other food groups so eating them can help you feel fuller and satisfied, helping with maintaining a healthy weight.  Those are quite delicious benefits to consider!

The Recipe:

  • 3 Russet Potatoes or about 2 cups chopped into 1 inch cubes, peeling is optional
  • 1 large green zucchini or about 2 cups chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large yellow squash or about 2 cups chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion or about 1 cup chopped into ½ inch pieces
  • 1 large bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, or green) seeds and ribs removed, chopped into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small eggplant or about 2 cups chopped
  • 1 cup of crushed tomatoes, jarred or canned, aim for the variety with * no salt
  • 1 cup kale or spinach or other green you prefer, chopped.
  • ½ cup white wine - something you like to drink. I keep a bottle in my refrigerator of the leftover wine we don't finish at dinner and use it for cooking. Sweet or dry, its up to you!  You can sub in water for this part if you do not prefer to cook with wine.
  • ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried basil
  • ¼ cup of fresh parsley for garnish
  • 1 tbsp grated pecorino romano cheese or nutritional yeast if you are dairy free
  • 3- 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Instructions:

  • So the main thing to remember about this recipe is that it is important to add ingredients in a stepwise fashion.  Not everything can go into the pot at the same time because each ingredient will cook at a different speed.
  • First add your olive to a thick bottomed sauce pot or cast iron dutch oven.
  • Turn your heat on to low medium and allow oil to heat for about a minute.
  • Add onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring so it doesn't burn. You want the garlic to be “colore di oro”, or golden color, as my mother would say.
  • Deglaze the pan with the white wine or water. All deglazing means is adding cool liquid to the hot pot and mixing, scraping all the brown bits up into your liquid. Thats where the flavor is! Cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add eggplant into the pot. This takes the longest to cook. Cook alone, for about five minutes.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and half of the basil (all of the dried if using).
  • Mix the pot.
  • Add potatoes and peppers, cook for 5 minutes.
  • Mix your pot and made sure no ingredients are sticking to the bottom!
  • Add squash, zucchini, and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Cover with lid and simmer on low - medium heat for about 15 - 20 minutes.
  • You ingredients should still have their shape when you are done. They should be fork tender but not mushy, soggy, or falling apart.
  • Shut off heat.
  • Plate in a bowl and garnish with cheese and remainder of the basil.
  • Enjoy your giambotta as a side or main dish!
  • TIP: If you want to increase the heartiness and protein, you can add cannellini beans at the same time as the zucchini and squash.
  • YUM!

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