Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Big, Delicious Mess

Last night I made my grandmother's Ciambotta. I wasn't even sure how that was spelled until I utilized the ever accomodating Google. My grandmother always said, "Chom-bott", clipping the word and not pronouncing the "a" on the end. After finding this article in the Los Angeles Times, I not only discovered the correct spelling (I was searching for something starting with "ci" since I know that's the "ch" sound in Italian), but I found another tidbit in the article describing another way the word is used, which is also how my grandmother used it: "It seems to be a dialect word that indicates not only a vegetable stew but also a mess. When someone gets confused telling a story or putting something together, people of southern Italian extraction might say they have made a big ciambotta."

I decided to do mine how my grandmother did, using just onions, potatoes and fresh string beans. I bought some beautiful string beans the other day and had potatoes I needed to use. It's such a simple dish, there's really no way to screw it up. In the first picture, you'll see just the onions and potatoes, cooking until the potatoes begin to get soft. In this second photo, you'll see that the string beans have been added. Isn't that color beautiful? Now just let everything cook and get all familiar with each other until you don't know where the potatoes end and the string beans begin.

Here's what you'll need to duplicate this delicious dish. The ingredients and the steps to make it are few. THE INGREDIENTS Olive Oil 1 large white onion, sliced 8-10 small white potatoes, cut in 1.5” pieces 1 lb. fresh string beans 2 cloves of finely minced garlic or garlic powder 1 small can tomato paste Salt & Pepper Parsley Oregano THE PROCESS 1. Coat the bottom of a large pot or skillet with olive oil. Sauté the onions until soft and caramelized. You can also add your minced garlic at this point, but if you’re using garlic powder, you can add it in the second step with the other spices. 2. Once the onions are soft, add the potatoes and the can of tomato paste. Add a few cans of water until everything is coated. Don’t worry if you put in too much water because you can always cook it down without the lid to make it thicker. I add all my spices at this point; salt and pepper, garlic powder if you didn’t do it with the onions, parsley and oregano. Cover the pot and let this all cook down until the potatoes get softer. Keep checking and stirring because you don’t want it to stick to the pot or burn. But cook enough to soften the potatoes. 3. Once the potatoes have softened a bit, throw in your string beans. Continue to cook until everything gets soft and the sauce gets thick and it looks like a stew. Keep tasting, you’ll know when it’s ready. Serve with a crusty Italian bread and you’ve got a satisfying, hearty meal. Enjoy! Click HERE for a copy of the recipe to print out. 

1 comment:

Gil said...

Sounds good! Anne made a fresh tomato sauce with the remainder of her tomatoes. Well, the ones that the deer and other animals didn't get. We had it over penne.