Ciambotta di Verdure (Pan-Fried Vegetables Served in Bread)
Pan-fried mediterranean vegetables with scrambled eggs stuffed inside a loaf is the best way to describe this dish, but really that is underselling it as ciambotta is one of my favourite recipes in the book, completely addictive and a real crowd-pleaser. When I was growing up Mum used to make it the night before a visit to the Madonna. On Sunday mornings my parents used to march us all up the hill behind our house to pay our respects and this was our mid-morning snack: huge fat wedges of juicy, eggy vegetable bread. Looking at the picture opposite, you’d be right to think that for most people, a hefty slice of this would be more than enough for a meal, but of course, we’d climb back down the hill for a big Sunday lunch later. At home, we’d stuff this into a huge Cerchiara loaf, which would give us lunches, snacks and dinners for days, but if you’re not going to embark on making one, the quantity here will fill the specified weight of sourdough and give a family a hearty meal or two at least. The flavours keep maturing so that it just gets better and better, and the juices inside the bread keep it moist so it won’t go stale. Alternatively you could halve the recipe and use a 1.25kg sourdough loaf.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
- 600g red peppers, cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 320g courgette, cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 350g aubergine, cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 300g red onions, cut into 1.5cm cubes
- 1 × 2.5kg sourdough loaf, or 2 × 1.25kg loaves
- 4 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- 10g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 10g basil, roughly chopped
- pinch of dried oregano
- 30g pecorino cheese, grated
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the red pepper over a medium heat until softened and lightly coloured, seasoning with salt and pepper, then transfer to a large bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the courgette in the same way then remove and add to the bowl of pepper. Repeat with the aubergine and red onion.
Cut a circle off the top of the bread, about a quarter of the way down, and tear out almost all the insides to make something similar to a pot. Mix the vegetables together, stir the eggs into the hot vegetables and season with the fresh herbs, oregano and the cheese. Check the seasoning and pile the mixture into the bread shell.
Drizzle with olive oil, cover with the bread’s top, and leave to firm up overnight at room temperature, flipping the bread three or four times, so that it becomes evenly soaked in all the oil and vegetable juices. Serve cut into wedges.