This delicious rustic Italian stew is a cross between a Ratatouille and a Primavera sauce – in fact, depending on how you serve it, it could be either! Originally from Sicily, many versions of this stew exist, and are subject to the whims of your pantry. Eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are must-haves in the composition. The rest is at the discretion of the cook!
For my version, I added fresh fennel which added a nice liquorish crunch to the dish. Bell peppers added some colour, and spinach and mushrooms added nice texture contrasts. The dish is simply seasoned with some red wine vinegar, chili flakes and fresh basil, making it a nice light change to the hearty winter stews of the season. Serve with some chickpeas or socca bread, and it’s a complete meal! Pour on top of pasta, and you have a saucy change to the standard primavera. Yet another dimension of Italian cooking, proving that there is more to the country than spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna!
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. eggplant, cubed
1½ cup red onion, diced large
1 bulb fennel, cubed
2 bell peppers, diced large
5 cloves garlic, minced
1½ lbs. zucchini, cubed
2½ cups tomatoes, diced large OR 1 (28oz.) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. chili pepper flakes
½ cup fresh basil, chiffoned
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. capers
¾ lb. Potatoes, cubed
greens: spinach, kale, Swiss chard
1) Sauté onion, garlic, and fennel in olive oil until onion soft
2) Add eggplant. Stir. Add water as necessary to prevent sticking. Cook until eggplant beginning to soften, approx. 10min.
3) Add bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, vinegar, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all veggies are tender, approx. 15min.
4) Stir in fresh basil, salt, pepper, and optional capers and greens. Simmer approx. 5min.
5) Serve as a soup, over pasta, with bread, or with socca.