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Ciambotta ~ Italian Summer Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

Giambotta Italian vegetable stew in white dish on towel on cutting board with basil garnish and toasted bread next to it.
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Ciambotta (aka, giambotta) is a hearty, yet simple, Italian stew that celebrates the summer’s harvest and is made with a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes are cooked together with lots of fragrant basil, onions and garlic and finished with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Pass the crusty bread, please!

Giambotta Italian vegetable stew in white dish on towel on cutting board with basil garnish and toasted bread next to it.

Along with peperonata, caponata, marinated zucchini and stuffed Italian eggplant, ciambotta vegetable stew is one of my favorite summer recipes to make on repeat once the garden gets going in mid-summer.

What is Ciambotta?

Ciambotta is a popular Italian summer recipe of stewed summer vegetables. It’s made all over Italy (and in Italian American households) where it goes by lots of different names that include giambotta, cianfotta, ciambrotta, ciabotta and giambot, among others. Many compare it to French ratatouille and the two dishes are very similar. One main difference is that ciambotta usually contains potatoes, whereas ratatouille does not.

It’s generally served as either a main course or side to grilled meats and fish, but I also like to incorporate into starters as it makes a great topping for grilled bruschetta bread as well!

It might seem strange to be making and eating stew during the hottest days of summer, but it really does have a lightness to it due to all the summer veggies, like this summer zucchini soup. My version includes eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes stewed together with onions, garlic and lots of aromatic basil–an abundance of fresh flavors and textures!

Giambotta is no frills, simple, fresh, comforting, satisfying and nutritious–peasant food (cucina povera) at its core. And, sometimes that really is the best kind of food.

Giambotta Italian vegetable stew in skillet with basil and toasted bread garnish.

Make It Your Own

Like my Pesto Roasted Vegetables recipe, giambotta stew is usually made a little bit different every time based on what’s available locally at the market or in your garden. That’s the beauty and charm of this recipe!

While I’ve given a definitive list of ingredients and amounts in the recipe below, feel free to add, subtract, adjust up or down and add in your other summer favorites to this dish. It’s such a wonderful way to celebrate summer produce in a hearty vegetarian meal that is completely customizable based on what you have on hand and what’s ripe. An easy-going dish–all summer vegetables are welcome!

You can even add a protein to ciambotta veggie stew if you want–Italian sausage, chicken thighs, cannellini beans and chickpeas are all popular options.

Try ciambotta once and you’ll surely come back to it again and again all summer long. Mangia bene!

Three pieces of toasted bruschetta bread topped with ciambotta (aka giambotta) on a white dish.

Ingredients for Ciambotta

⁠⁠⁠Giambotta Italian vegetable stew is all about celebrating the season’s harvest and letting its flavor shine! As such, all main ingredients are typically in-season, late summer vegetables. Feel free to make this with what you have on hand, even if all the veggies listed below are not included.

  • Bell Peppers: Use orange, yellow or red bell peppers for the best, sweetest result. Do not use green bell peppers in this recipe as they have a completely different flavor and tend to be bitter. Select peppers that are firm and heavy for their size without bruising or wrinkled skin. Sweet cubanelle peppers are also a great option (red or green).
  • Zucchini, Yellow Squash: Use either or both. Any variety can be used, including gray and Romanesco zucchini.
  • Eggplant: Any variety can be used. If you have the opportunity to make this with a more unusual variety, such as round Sicilian eggplants, go for it!
  • Tomatoes: Fresh roma or plum tomatoes are really what should be used in this recipe. It’s a dish that celebrates the flavors of the garden and the season’s harvest. Having said this, you can use canned whole tomatoes IN JUICE, but only use the tomatoes and not the juice. This dish gets plenty of liquid from all the other vegetables. If you use tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes, the giambotta will end up being more saucy.
  • Potatoes: Use a waxy, all-purpose or red potato as they tend to hold their shape better than other potatoes.
  • Basil: No explanation needed! Use lots. You can also experiment with other fresh herbs like flat-leaf parsley, mint and dill. Dried herbs are not recommended in this recipe.
  • Vinegar: While the vinegar is optional, I really love the slight acidity that it brings to the dish, rounding out its flavors. Use either red or white wine vinegar.
  • Garlic and Onions: Basic aromatics for a strong flavor foundation, Use as much or as little garlic as you want! Do not use pre-minced bottled garlic as it has an unpleasant taste. Fresh is best!
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Used to both sauté and finish the dish. Use a high quality extra virgin olive oil for finishing as it really makes a difference.

All ciambotta summer vegetable stew ingredients on cutting board.

For more delicious recipes with zucchini and summer squash, check out Panko Breaded Baked Zucchini and Zucchini Parmesan.

How to Make Ciambotta, Step-by-Step

Here are the steps to make this Italian summer veggie stew:

  • Prep and gather all ingredients. Then, combine the olive oil, onions, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven, rondeau or large skillet with high sides over medium heat and cover. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until the onions start to become translucent, stirring a few times.

  • Add the eggplant and stir. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.

  • Then, add the zucchini, peppers, tomatoes (and their juice), potatoes, salt and black pepper and stir until all ingredients are well-combined. Cover and continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture simmers. Once simmering, uncover and adjust the heat down to maintain a light simmer. Stir every 5 minutes or so.
    • PRO TIP: Don’t over stir as it may cause the veggies to become too mushy.

  • Once the potatoes are cooked, the ciambotta is done! Turn off the heat and fold in the remaining basil. Taste and adjust seasonings. That’s it!
    • PRO TIP: If there is an excess of liquid in the giambotta, just drain some off to your preference or use a slotted spoon to serve.

More Italian-Inspired Summer Vegetable Recipes

Sun shining on italian veggie stew in skillet with basil and toasted bread garnish.

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy this giambotta recipe in lots of ways! Some of my favorites are:

  • As a soup with a spoon! The vegetables in ciambotta release a lot of liquid as they stew and the final result can be somewhat soup-like. So, sometimes, I just go with that! Sprinkle it with a little pecorino cheese and call it a day!
  • As a bruschetta topping (see the photos above and below). Even though it may seem strange to enjoy this Italian veggie stew with potatoes on grilled bread as an appetizer, I am here to tell you to go for it! And, don’t skimp on the extra virgin olive oil drizzle!
  • As a proper stew and light, vegetarian (and vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free) main course. (You can cook the stew down to make it thicker, if desired.) Don’t forget the rustic, crusty bread to fare la scarpetta!
  • As a veggie side or condiment to grilled or roasted meats and fish or any number of entrees such as roasted pork shoulder or baked chicken cutlets.
  • Tossed with pasta or served over polenta if you’re craving carbs and a pasta with veggies. Sprinkle with lots of pecorino or parmesan cheese!
  • Add a good dose of picante to this Italian vegetable stew with a drizzle of homemade Italian spicy pepper oil.


Close up of giambotta bruschetta with bowl of ciambotta italian vegetable stew in background.
Ciambotta also makes a delicious bruschetta topping!

TOP TIPS FOR CIAMBOTTA

  • Veggies: Use any variety eggplant, zucchini and sweet peppers. If you use bell peppers, I do not suggest green as they tend to be a bit bitter. Use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers for best results.
  • Tomatoes: Try to use fresh tomatoes in this recipe. It’s a dish that celebrates the flavors of the garden and the season’s harvest. Having said this, you can use canned whole tomatoes IN JUICE, but only use the tomatoes and not the juice. This dish gets plenty of liquid from all the other vegetables. If you use tomato sauce, the giambotta will end up being more saucy.
  • Texture:The vegetables won’t really hold their original shape and some tend to get a little mushy. This is normal and part of the beauty of the dish. Still, don’t over stir the veggies as they cook for the best chance at them holding their shape.
  • Olive Oil: Use the really good, extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over the finished dish.
  • Seasoning: Be sure to taste and adjust seasoning (salt and pepper) at the end of cooking and add half the fresh basil at the end for a splash of brightness!
  • Leftovers: Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
  • Substitutions and Variations:
    • While the vinegar is optional, I really love the slight acidity that it brings to the dish, rounding out its flavors.
    • Sometimes, I’ll add anchovy to the pan along with the garlic for more savoriness and umami. If you’re up for this, I suggest 3 to 4 anchovy filets. The anchovy will dissolve as the garlic cooks.
    • Some ciambotta recipes call for small diving all the vegetables so that the final dish is more spread-like. This is also a great option.
    • Leave the potatoes out for a carb-friendly option.
    • Some other ingredients that would be great in this Italian vegetable stew are fennel, green beans, squash blossoms, kale and cannellini beans (for increased protein). Parsley, mint and dill are also great herbs to try out here.

More Great Recipes to Try

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If you’ve tried Giambotta, please let me know how it went in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

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Giambotta Italian vegetable stew in white dish on towel on cutting board with basil garnish and toasted bread next to it.

Ciambotta ~ Italian Summer Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

Michele
Ciambotta is a hearty, yet simple, Italian stew that celebrates the summer’s harvest and is made with a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables. Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes are cooked together with lots of fragrant basil, onions and garlic and finished with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Pass the crusty bread, please!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil + more for finishing
  • 1 pound yellow or red onion, large dice (1 to 1½ large onions)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided + more for finishing
  • ¼ cup thinly-sliced or chopped garlic
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound eggplant, large chunks, peeled if desired (about 1 medium eggplant)
  • 1 pound zucchini or yellow squash, (or a combo), large chunks or ¼ moon slices (1 to 2 medium zucchini)
  • pounds bell peppers or cubanelles (or a combo), seeded, stemmed, large chunks (See NOTES.)
  • 1 pound plum or roma tomatoes, cored and chopped into large pieces (keep the juice!)
  • 1 pound all-purpose, red or Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, large chunks (hold in cold water if not using immediately)
  • Pinch/ to taste salt and black pepper
  • Light drizzle red or white wine vinegar (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Prep and gather all ingredients according to specifications above.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
  • Combine the olive oil, onions, ½ cup basil, garlic and red pepper flakes in a Dutch oven, rondeau or large skillet with high sides over medium heat and cover. Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until the onions start to become translucent, stirring a few times.
    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 pound yellow or red onion,, ¼ cup thinly-sliced or chopped garlic, Pinch crushed red pepper
  • Add the eggplant and stir. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
    1 pound eggplant,
  • Then, add the zucchini, peppers, tomatoes (and their juice), potatoes (drain if held in water), salt and black pepper and stir until all ingredients are well-combined. Cover and continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture simmers.
    1 pound zucchini or yellow squash,, 1½ pounds bell peppers or cubanelles, 1 pound plum or roma tomatoes,, 1 pound all-purpose, red or Yukon Gold potatoes,, Pinch/ to taste salt and black pepper
  • Once simmering, uncover and adjust the heat down to maintain a light simmer. Stir every 5 minutes or so. (Don’t over stir as it may cause the veggies to become too mushy.) The vegetables should release and provide enough liquid for the mixture to stew.
  • If you’re including vinegar, add a splash to the stew when there is about 5 or so minutes left of cooking. I love the slight acidity that it brings to the dish, but it is completely optional.
    Light drizzle red or white wine vinegar
  • Cook until the potatoes are tender. (Once the potatoes are cooked, the ciambotta is done! The amount of time will vary based on cut size and type of pan.). Then turn off the heat and fold in the remaining ½ cup basil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • If there is an excess of liquid in the giambotta, just drain some off to your preference or use a slotted spoon to serve. (This liquid could also be used in soup!) Note that this stew tends to accumulate more liquid as it sits (as the veggies continue to release liquid). This is normal.
  • Enjoy ciambotta warm or at room temperature with rustic, crusty bread. When serving, drizzle lightly with some extra virgin olive oil and garnish with more fresh basil. Buon Appetito!

Notes

  • Use any variety eggplant, zucchini and sweet peppers. If you use bell peppers, I do not suggest green as they tend to be a bit bitter. Use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers for best results.
  • Fresh tomatoes are really what should be used in this recipe. It’s a dish that celebrates the flavors of the garden and the season’s harvest. Having said this, you can use canned whole tomatoes IN JUICE, but only use the tomatoes and not the juice. This dish gets plenty of liquid from all the other vegetables. If you use tomato sauce, the giambotta will end up being more saucy.
  • The vegetables won’t really hold their original shape and some tend to get a little mushy. This is normal and part of the beauty of the dish. Some versions of this recipe actually call for small diced vegetables so that it is more of a spread than a chunky stew.
  • Like many dishes, ciambotta gets better as it sits and the flavors develop. Feel free to make it one or two days in advance of serving.
  • Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy this Italian vegetable stew hot and eat it like a soup, or warm/at room temperature as a bruschetta topping. It can be a light entrée on its own and is also a perfect side to any number of entrees.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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1 thought on “Ciambotta ~ Italian Summer Vegetable Stew (Giambotta)

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I grew up with this dish and never knew how to make it. It’s very nostalgic for me! The family loved it and can’t wait to make it again.

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