I often get carried away at my local outdoor markets here in Umbria. There are only two of us at home, but I always buy enough vegetables to serve a large family for a week! This dilemma usually works out for us, as we eat the leftover vegetables for lunch throughout the week. When I have a few odds and ends in my refrigerator, I often throw them together to make a vegetable stew. This stew is similar to Sicilian caponata, but I use a larger combination of vegetables depending on what I have on hand. I was looking through an Italian cooking magazine A Tavola this month and was surprised to see my recipe for vegetable stew listed as an Emilia Romagna recipe called Frizzone. I have been making this recipe for years, and never realized that it actually had a name! After searching online, it was apparent that although Frizzone is a dish from that region, it is interpreted in many different ways.
To me, this is a Cucina Povera, or country peasant dish that comes from the earth. I can see an old Nonna heading out to her orto (vegetable garden), and picking an eggplant, one or two zucchini, a large onion, a carrot, some celery, a couple of tomatoes, and a handful of fresh herbs. She would then cut everything up, throw it in a pot, and slowly cook the vegetables to make this delicious stew served with slices of crusty Italian bread. This dish is the kind of food that I could eat every day and never grow tired of it.
The only changes I made to the A Tavola recipe was to add some chopped taggiasca olives and salted capers that I rinsed well first. This addition gives the stew some vibrancy in my mind and makes it taste somewhat like a Sicilian Caponata. You could play around with the vegetables, depending on what you have on hand, just make sure they are cut into equal sizes. I used a can of pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) that I had on hand, but you could substitute fresh, halved cherry tomatoes instead if you needed to. This dish is delicious on its own served with crusty Italian bread, or it makes a great vegetable side dish for roasted or grilled meat. I prefer this dish served at room temperature, which allows all the flavors to come through. Just becareful not to overcook this stew, because you still want it to have some texture and not turn to mush.
Deborah Mele 2016
Frizzone - Vegetable Stew From Emilia Romagna
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Large Onion, Peeled & Chopped
- 2 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 1 Large Eggplant, Chopped
- 2 Medium Zucchini, Chopped
- 2 Medium Carrots, Trimmed & Chopped
- 2 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Minced
- 1 (14 Ounce) Can Cherry Tomatoes
- 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Cup Water
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley, Divided
- 1/2 Cup Chopped Flavorful Olives
- 1/4 Cup Rinsed, Salted Capers
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- 2 – 3 Teaspoons Aged Balsamic Vinegar
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, wide bottom saucepan.
- Add the onion, celery, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, and garlic, and cook, stirring often until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, water, basil, and half the parsley, and cook until the stew has thickened, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining parsley, olives, and capers.
- Taste, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
- Serve warm, or allow to cool to room temperature.