I hope that colorful picture conjures up all sorts of warm weather things in your mind because it’s doing that to me. When the weather in my area is not to my liking (as in the entire Winter) I can “retreat” to the warmer temps by cooking something that has a bit of Summer sunshine in every bite. Take this STUFATO DI ZUCCHINE, or ZUCCHINI STEW. A simple melange of Olive oil, onions, Tomatoes and Zucchini that is enormously satisfying and pretty straighforwad in how it’s made. By the time November rolls around people in my region (the American North East coast)have run out of ideas for their prolific annual harvest of home grown zucchini. Agreed, that’s the best time to make this according to Mother Nature. Did you always listen to everything your mother said? Combine zucchini that you can still find (it’s in season somewhere else in the world when it’s not inseason in my neck o’the woods) and just make sure it’s not beat up, limp, blistered. Clearly, those are really old and tired and should be avoided. BUT, if you can find something like this: well then it’s time to made Zucchini Stew. For you types out there that love to correct online mistakes I did not mess up the title of this blog post. ZUCCHINE is the proper Italian word for the plural ZUCCHINA which means little or smaller squash (which is termed ZUCCA). Here in the US we use the term ZUCCHINI so before there’s a screaming match between my US friends and my Italian Friends, I’ve placed both into the title. I’m the UN…everybody is right!! It’s a crap shoot in the Winter months to find decent Zucchini but you can tell by their look and feel that they will perk up the dark winter of root vegetables and roasted meats with a ray of sunshine. Certainly the tomatoes will not be of the fresh variety,really need to wait for the season for that but a good can of Italian Plum Tomatoes ( I use the San Marzano DOP tomatoes) that are generally picked at the height of their season will make this Stufato di Zucchine a welcome dish in any season. Let’s cook!
SERVES: 4 people TIME: 40 minutes
4 firm unblemished ZUCCHINI, sliced and diced into cubes, try to keep the size somewhat the same, it helps with more even cooking.
1 large diced onion
2 tbs.Extra Virgin Olive Oil
kosher salt, peperoncino
3 fresh basil leaves or pinch of oregano
1 28oz can of Italian Plum Tomatoes (San Marzanos are my preference) crushed
In a saucepan heat 2 tbs of Olive Oil adding the zucchini when the oil is hot. Sprinkle some salt over this and make sure you CAREFULLY stir the zucchini so all cubes are covered in the oil. Let this cook for 7 minutes stirring frequently but carefully. Now add the onion, stir, and let this cook for12 minutes,slowly, stirring. Add 2 tbs of water and cook until it’s evaporated. when the onions and zucchini are soft add a pinch of peperoncino, and the oregano if that’s the herb you’ve chosen. Pinch of salt. Now add the tomatoes and continue to cook until the zucchini and onions are sweet and soft, about 20 minutes.Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. At this point your dish should look like this: If you are using the basil, add the leaves now and stir. Let this sit for at least 1/2 hour before serving.
To make this vegan simply prepare as shown.. To enhance the flavor (my preferred style) serve with lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. I also drizzle some EVOO and a pinch of peperoncino on top. This dish can be a side dish or served over pasta. For any Gluten Free types the recipe as written is naturally Gluten Free.
Now those who are familiar with this type of Italian cooking will say, make that with sausage, or potatoes, or isn’t this a GIAMBOTTA? This dish is this dish, a zucchini stew, period. Now start adding other things and it turns into a Giambotta, also very good, but for me it’s charm is that it’s only a few ingredients with lots of flavor from each of them. I love all the Italian vegetable and potato and meat combos. So many to chose from..all Vegetable, or a mix.