Ciabotto Abruzzese

ciabotto di giulia

Giulia’s ‘ciabotto’ (vegetable stew) served in a traditional terra-cotta dish

As soon as I took a bite of this vegetable stew at my friend Giulia’s house, I knew I wanted to share the recipe with you.

Ciabotto (cha-bot-toh), as it is called in Abruzzo, is the essence of summer, a savory sauté of zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, cooked in wine and a generous amount of olive oil. Its flavor is rich and enveloping, warm sunlight implied in every bite. To me, it exemplifies the Italian spirit of generosity and hospitality.

You might know, especially if you follow my Instagram feed, where I post regularly, that I spent most of this month in Italy, hopscotching my way from the Langhe (Piemonte), in the north, to the Cilento (Campania), in the south, while researching my current book project. After sleeping in a different bed every night or two ~ some nicer than others (causing me to lose what little faith I had in TripAdvisor) ~ I had the desire to be among friends.

So near the end of the trip I went to stay with Giulia, who operates a country house on a hilltop near Manoppello, in Abruzzo. Casale Centurione is somewhere between a B & B and an agriturismo, with a restaurant and a handful of clean, simply furnished rooms in a restored farmhouse. The property, which Giulia and her husband, Gian Luca, share with his parents, is planted with olive trees, a vineyard, fruit trees of every sort ~ apple, apricot, cherry, peach, pear, and so on ~ and a prodigious vegetable garden that furnishes much of what is served at the restaurant.

ciabotto basket

Vegetables from the garden at Casale Centurione

Early one morning we harvested a basketful of vegetables and at lunchtime Giulia showed me how to make ciabotto. It’s simple, as long as you don’t undercook or overcook the vegetables. Garlic and a little onion are sautéed in olive oil, then the rest of the vegetables, diced, are added to the pan, along with wine and more oil, and left to cook over a moderate flame until tender. All the flavors mingle into a delicious savory sauce, perfect for scooping up with bread.

Ciabotto is just one name for this humble and nourishing vegetable dish, a less fussy version of ratatouille and a summer staple throughout central and southern Italy. According to this post (in Italian), the name derives from an archaic French word, “chabrot,” meaning a “mix” (I haven’t verified this ~ if you are proficient in French and know this to be true Id’ love confirmation). Interestingly, the word “ciabotto,” in Abruzzese dialect, means “chubby,” and in a certain sense it describes the dish well, for the stew is made from vegetables that are plentiful in an Italian summer garden, and it can be employed as a main dish, a side, or a condiment. It is, in a word, generous.

The variations are many. In Lazio, the region that borders Abruzzo on the west, it is known as ‘cianfotta’ and features spring vegetables such as peas, favas, and artichokes. There are numerous iterations to the south in Campania, including one with beans and chard and another with olives and oregano. In parts of Puglia, ‘ciambotta’ refers to a fish stew with peppers and tomatoes. Here’s a Tuscan version posted over on Food 52 by blogger Emiko Davies.

Even within Abruzzo’s own borders there are numerous renditions. Some 30 miles away from Manopello, in Navelli, my friend Francesca introduced me to a local version know as “la iotta.” It is, essentially, the same vegetable stew but rather than sautéed it is baked in the oven.

This brings up the wonderful versatility of ciabotto. At Giulia’s we enjoyed it with fresh buffalo mozzarella that I had picked up in Campania. The next day, leftovers were cleverly turned into a pizza topping. Giulia’s MIL, herself a wonderful cook, said she often makes ciabotto, minus the potatoes, to toss with pasta. You could certainly stir it into risotto or mix it with cooked farro.

ciabotto snapseed

My stateside version of ‘ciabotto’

I made a big batch the day after I got home, using eggplant, zucchini and yellow summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and purple potatoes from the farmers’ market. I served it as a side to grilled chicken and sausages. A couple of nights later I turned the leftovers into a gratin, which I topped with seasoned bread crumbs and baked in the oven until golden.

There you have it: Ciabotto, Italian generosity in a single dish.


* * * * * *

Abruzzo is calling you! Speaking of Italian generosity, nowhere is this trait more prevalent than among the people of Abruzzo. Join us this September for a unique culinary tour of this spectacular and unspoiled region of Italy. Only two spots left.

Tholos entrance

* * * * * * 

Makes 8 or more servings

Ciabotto {Summer Vegetable Stew}

This simple vegetable stew comprises all the flavors of an Italian summer ~ zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and basil. Serve it as a side dish, spoon it onto pizza as a topping, or toss with pasta.


  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery, plus a handful of leaves if you have them
  • 1 small peperoncino (chile pepper), minced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 to 4 zucchini and/or summer squash, diced
  • 2 young eggplants, diced (if using older, dice them, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for an hour, then squeeze out the bitter juices and pat dry)
  • 2 large red peppers, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • Fine sea salt
  • A handful fresh basil leaves, torn


Put the garlic and about 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large high-sided skillet or sauté pan and set over medium heat. Press the garlic into the oil when it begins to sizzle to extract its flavor but don't allow it to brown. At this point you can remove it or leave it in (I leave it in). Stir in the onion, celery, and peperoncino, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the potato and toss to coat it with the oil. Cook for 5 minutes, until the potato begins to soften.

Stir in the zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes. Raise the heat to medium-high and stir in the wine. Let it bubble briefly, then reduce the heat to medium. Drizzle in more oil, somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Don't be too reserved; the oil contributes much to the stew's silky texture and rich sauce. Season the stew with a generous pinch of salt. Cook over moderate heat, turning every so often, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Serve warm or at room temperature (the more it sits, the better it gets). Ciabotto goes well with almost anything ~ fresh mozzarella, grilled chicken or fish, steak, lamb chops, sausages, you name it.

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33 Responses to Ciabotto Abruzzese

  1. Rosa Jeanne Mayland July 21, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    A beautiful vegetable dish! Perfect with burrata, mozzarella or meat.



    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 11:56 am #

      Thank you, Rosa. It always makes me happy to read your comments. xx

  2. Kathleen Shepard (Katia) July 21, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    Yummm! Will have to try this recipe with our summer’s bounty here (although not from a private garden, except the herbs!) If you were in Northern Lazio, we have a guest room (now with airconditioning!).

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Thank you for the kind offer, Kathleen. I may take you up on it one day. Would love to meet up. 🙂

  3. Helen July 21, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    I had a version of this in Rocca San Giovann from a home cook at her b&b. So light and wonderful I almost cried. Delighted to see its name and a recipe. Many thanks to you and dear Giulia .

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Abruzzese home cooking is the best, isn’t it Helen. Hope you are still enjoying your travels. xo

  4. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way July 21, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    It certainly does shout summer with all of the freshness of just picked vegetable. Although traveling so much is wearing I bet you came back with loads of inspiration. Thank you for sharing Juls recipe.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Yes, lots of inspiration…not to mention looming deadlines! 😉

  5. cristina July 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    Ciabotto sounds and looks like a versatile and delicious dish. Luv all the fresh seasonal ingredients used and how you transformed the leftovers into a gratin. Enjoyed the background about the dish and so wish I had the means to join the culinary tour in Abruzzo – lovely post!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 11:59 am #

      Thank you Cristina. Abruzzo will be there waiting for you, and I know that once you get there you will love it. Cheers, D

  6. Mary Louise Tucker July 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

    You’re killing me Domenica! We’re still a long way off seasonal tomatoes and zucchini here in Adelaide.

    It definitely reminds me of a ratatouille I used to make in my university days in Arizona when meat was not in my student budget. I used to put the leftovers in a flour tortilla (freshly made by the Mexican ladies I worked with at the campus food service).

    But not long before I get to Abruzzo… We’ll be staying with Giulia at the end of the harvest season so hopefully I can try a version of this yummy dish.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      I like the idea of filling a tortilla with leftover ciabotto. I’ll try it next time. Also, it may still be winter there, but your seasons are moving in the right direction; ours are going the other way. Already I can feel a change in the air and the cicadas grow louder with each passing day. Summers used to seem endless; now they go by just like that.

  7. ciaochowlinda July 21, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    It’s a perfect summer meal in one dish, and meat eaters can add some sausage or other grilled meats. I made something similar the other night with zucchini from my garden, but I never thought to add the potatoes. Glad you got a chance to connect with Giulia too. Welcome back to the states.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      Thank you Linda. Giulia’s version was the first I had with potatoes; it was a nice twist but not necessary if you want to keep things lighter. The nice thing about potatoes is that they soak up all those wonderful juices that carry so much flavor.

      • Jane September 10, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

        This is similar to a recipe I have that is titled Giambotta. Is this the same?

        • Domenica Marchetti September 12, 2015 at 8:03 am #

          Hi Jane, it’s hard to say without knowing what is in the recipe you have. But it certainly could be; the two names are similar.

  8. Chiara July 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    un piatto delizioso caldo , tiepido o anche freddo, è perfetto per questa stagione e risolve una cena con poche aggiunte (formaggi o uova) senza per forza mangiare carne, grazie per aver condiviso, un abbraccio !

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

      Si, hai ragione Chiara. Il ciabatto e’ buonissimo anche freddo, specialmente con questo caldo! Buonissimo anche l’idea di servirlo con le uova. Grazie!

  9. Kathleen "Katia" Shepard July 22, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    Domenica, perchance tonight I met a new Abruzzese friend, a local surgeon, at a friend’s house for cena. We were discussing our recent Abruzzo trip and I mentioned the filadoni salati. A discussion ensued about the ingredients and I mentioned the rigatino. He answered immediately that this was a cow’s milk cheese ahed in a basket container, which contributed the ridged exterior. He did not think there was a substitute, here in Northern Lazio or back in the USA. That will be my challenge. Any ideas are welcome. Did your Mom make them in the U.S.?

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

      I wish I had an answer for you, but I’m afraid I’m not familiar with rigatino. I’ll definitely look for it on my next trip. What about something like cacio di Roma? or a pecoino fresco? Maybe not be the same but possibly a good substitute. My mom did not make fiadoni so I didn’t know about them until I started paying more attention to the food of Abruzzo as an adult.

  10. Gluten Free A-Z July 22, 2015 at 10:38 pm #

    You are so right, your stew spells summer. It’s the perfect combination of July and August farm vegetables

  11. elisa July 25, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    My old aunt from Abruzzo, Domenica ( yes Domenica, but everyone called her Memeca) used to make this dish, but instead of potatoes she used already cooked ceci. What a great dish!Thank you Domenica for sharing it.

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

      Yes! Ceci would be a wonderful substitute for the potatoes in this stew. Will give it a try next time. Grazie. I hope you are doing alright. Un abbraccio!

  12. Lisa July 27, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Hi Domenica, this sounds wonderful! What kind of pepper do you suggest using in place of the peperoncino? I have not seen those available in stores near me. Thanks!

    • Domenica Marchetti July 27, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

      Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. Good question. Peperoncino is sort of a catch-all term for hot pepper. The Abruzzese peperoncini are long and remind me of cayennes. You could use any variety of hot pepper you like or find in the supermarket. Even crushed red pepper flakes will do in a pinch. Cheers, D

  13. Frank Fariello August 2, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    Bookmarked for my vegetarian brother in law whose visiting with his family at the moment. I’m sure he’ll love this!

  14. Nora August 2, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    I made this tonight with grilled chicken. It was delicious! I am excited to eat it again tomorrow!

  15. Matthew September 16, 2015 at 2:47 am #

    I used this as an inspiration for a fish stew — please see my review on Yummly


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