1 large onion (yellow skin), sliced thinly
10 Romano tomatoes, diced
2 red peppers, cored, sliced thinly
1 egg, whole or beaten (optional)
Olive oil for frying (about 3 tablespoons)
o Add olive to frying pan. Heat.
o Stir fry onions, till caramelized.
o Remove onions.
o Add red peppers to the pan. Saute until soft (about 6 minutes).
o Remove red peppers.
o Skin tomatoes (optional)and then cut them up. Put the tomatoes in the frying pan and stew for about 1/2 hour.
o Return the stir fried onions, red peppers to the frying pan, add salt, and stew for another 15 minutes.
o (Optional) Add a whole egg and cook sunny side up in the stew, or add a beaten egg and cook, occasionally stirring, until the egg is cooked through.
o Serve with Italian bread.
Mrs. Rosina Melfi who grew up in Casacalenda, Campobasso in the 1930s, notes that for a vegetable stew to be called a "ciobotola" it has to contain onions, red peppers and fresh tomatoes. Other ingredients can be added (e.g. eggplants and eggs) and it is still a "ciobotola" but it is not a "ciobotola' unless it contains onions, red peppers and tomatoes. In some parts of Italy home cooks did use green peppers in the 1930s to make a similar style of stew, but in Casacalenda, red peppers were preferred. According to Mrs. Rosina Melfi, zucchini were not used in this stew as they are too watery and would spoil the dish (However, others from Casacalenda disagree on this point, including her sister-in-law). Mrs. Rosina Melfi indicated that the word, "ciobotola," is not Italian in origin, but rather Molisani dialect -- the word means "all mixed up." However, the word, "ciobotola," was only used to describe this particular vegetable stew and not for anything else that might have been mixed up. Prior to World War II eggs were considered a delicacy in Molise, so they were not that often used to make the dish. In Canada, eggs are almost always included. When Mrs. Rosina Melfi was growing up in Casacalenda in the 1930s "ciobotola" was always served as a main course, but nowadays, in Canada, while she does present it as a main course, she also serves it as a sauce and tops it on fried chicken breast or other meats.In any case, everyone in her family loves this vegetable stew, so much so, that even her grandchildren make tons of it in the fall, and can it, so that they have plenty to go around in the winter. Photo and notes: Mrs. Rosina Melfi's niece, Mary Melfi.