Wish Upon A Dish: Italian Stew (Ciambotta) ♥ First Cooking Recollections - #thereciperedux September Challenge

September 22, 2016

Italian Stew (Ciambotta) ♥ First Cooking Recollections - #thereciperedux September Challenge

Ciambotta or Giambotta.
An Italian stew, usually with vegetables but can contain some meats.
Until today I did not know the official Italian name for this, only that this was weeknight dinner for my father growing up.

#theRecipeRedux September challenge........

First Cooking Recollections
Stir up some of your earliest culinary recollections. Did you stand at your grandmother’s elbow to learn to cook? Or did you learn by stumbling through a cookbook by yourself? Share a healthy recipe and the accompanying story about one of your first cooking memories.

I have a very vivid cooking recollection of the first food I learned to make standing on a chair at my Nonna's house to help her roll out pasta dough with a broom handle.

I know from time to time I mention childhood food memories, learning how to cook the dishes my Pop grew up eating but until I made the pilgrimage to Ellis Island (finally finished bringing it back to it's glory), did I get the bug to learn as much about my family as I could.

That started with a sit down with my Dad and his twin sister.

Grandpa immigrated from Rome and Grandma from Florence, each one traveling solo. In those days a local Church had families that would sponsor Catholic Italians providing room and board and a job until they could speak English and become self sufficient. My grandma and grandpa met through that church, married and started a family.

While most of my memories from that time were about playing with my cousins and running all over during hide n seek, I do have a few clear memories about helping Grandma Louise make dinner.
Since I was a pipsqueak and could not reach the stove, I stood on a chair to help her make the pasta. My job was to break the eggs and after she rolled the dough to the right thickness, I help roll up the dough on a broom stick for the journey to the bedroom where there awaited a sheet for drying.
That dough was as big as the bed and she really did need help. If there was to be one big moment in time for me, that would be it.

As a child, I regularly enjoyed the hearty stew that my Nonna Louise prepared as a way to use up surplus produce from the garden.
This dish is exactly what would have been served for dinner on a weeknight, only now the vegetables are from my garden, the bread from my oven and the pasta cut with a machine, not on my bed, but on my dinner table, drying on a towel.

Grandma Louise would have been pleased.

While this is not difficult to make, like most Italian dishes, there is a technique used.
In this case it is the addition of vegetables in a specific order ending with a bechamela right before serving.
Since during the week, with busy days, making homemade pasta is not doable, I use a good quality packaged fresh pasta that is either fettuccine or sheets to be torn.

While I was reminded of that dinner 50 years ago, the Nudge immediately said (after proclaiming he wanted this every Soup Monday, please! ) that it tasted like the insides of a great pot pie.
That was the best compliment I could have gotten.
Now I have to find a few different variations, as the cold weather rolls in.
Yes, please!

This may look decadent but I ran it through my recipe analyzer and it gave me a total under 400 calories per serving, and yes, that included the pasta!

Let's get cooking......

You will will need:
a quart of good quality chicken stock/broth
an assortment of late-summer vegetables
a bechamela
dark meat chicken
packaged soup vegetables (usually near the wrapped veggies)

Italian Vegetable Stew
makes 8 servings
For the broth:
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 chicken thighs
* 1/2 medium whole onion
* 1 whole carrot, cleaned
* 1 celery stalk, 2" pieces
* 4 whole cloves of garlic
* 32oz. chicken broth/stock
* 2 cups water
* 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon (chicken base)
* seasoned salt and black pepper

For the stew:
* 1 large carrot, diced into corn kernel size
* 1 large potato, diced into corn kernel size
* 1 medium zucchini, same dice
* 1 medium summer squash, same dice
* 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
* 2 packed cups spinach, 1" strips
* 1 large tomato, seeded and slivered
* 6oz. fresh fettuccine, roughly chopped

For the bechamela:
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 cup fat-free half & half
* 1/2 grated Romano cheese
* salt & pepper to taste
1. Heat a Dutch oven or heavy bottoms stock pot. Add olive oil and heat.
2. Season chicken with seasoned salt & pepper.
3. Add chicken, carrot, celery, garlic and onion to the oil. Nestle them in to contact the pan.
4. Saute until they brown and flip over, about 5 minutes.
5. Repeat with other side and add herbs.
6. Once browning is achieved add the stock and the water. Cover the pan and simmer for 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a bowl to cool and strain the broth through a sieve. Throw out the aromatics. Pick the chicken clean and tear into large pieces. Reserve.
7. Add a little more oil to the pot and saute the potatoes with the carrots for 4 minutes.
8. Add the corn and the sliced tomato. Pour the broth over the vegetables and simmer until the potatoes are tender but not mushy.
9. Add the spinach and pasta and simmer until the pasta is cooked. Add the chicken meat.
10. In a small bowl whisk the flour and the half & half until there are no lumps left.
11. Add the roux to the pot and stir until the broth starts to thicken, adding additional cream if needed.
12. Finish with the grated cheese, stir to mix, adjust the salt & pepper and serve.

Can be stored, cooled and covered for up to a week in the fridge. Gently reheat before serving.

I am already jotting down different batches of vegetables for when the weather gets cooler and then frosty. I think that this stew requires hardy vegetables, not ones that will disintegrate with simmering.



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