“Cianfotta is a golden, glowing vegetable stew”, is the introduction to one of my favorite recipes from Viana LaPlace. And it is, indeed, just that.
Since today was Labor Day, relaxed and rainy, it was an opportunity to cook as I wished. I started with some tomatoes that needed attention — five lush San Marzanos, and a bowl full of orange/yellow cherry tomatoes. They each received similar treatment: sliced in half lengthwise, seeded when possible, sprinkled with chopped garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, and oven-roasted at 250º F. for about 3 hours, to achieve a rich, flavorful semidried status useful in so many ways.
Next I made the Cianfotta — A Country-Style Vegetable Stew — from Campania. Interestingly, it is exactly a year since I first made (and wrote about) this dish. It’s a pretty simple recipe, with relatively few ingredients and steps. I made only one addition, i.e. a dozen Gaeta olives, pitted, and cut in quarters, which I added to the dish with the other vegetables. One additional comment of note: the dish was greatly enhanced by some white beans I discovered in my stash of fine foods two days ago. These were not just any white beans. They were the magical Fagioli di Controne, also from Campania, near Salerno. I had bought a small package of the dried beans (unknowing their special qualities — just purchased by chance — last year at BuonItalia in NY). I gave 2/3 of the package to Barbara, who made an astonishingly good kale and bean soup yesterday with them, so I cooked the rest today to use in my stew, and I was very glad I did.
Since I had a bit more eggplant than I needed for the stew (and desiring to keep things in balance), I saved the last two slices of eggplant to sautée separately, as a side dish, topped with the oven-roasted tomatoes.
The wine choice was also relatively easy. I chose a Negroamaro from Puglia, a 2010 Amphora from Guttarolo. This was one of the wineries I almost visited in Puglia last year but could not work out the logistics, so I was delighted to have a chance to drink it now, another of the gems from Marc when he was at Thirst Wine Merchants in Brooklyn.