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Pan of stewed vegetables, cecina style

(Tegamaccio di ortaggi stufati, alla cecinese)

  • 6 medium long size courgettes
  • 1 big red onion
  • 2 tender carrots
  • 3 medium size potatoes
  • 200 grams of French beans
  • 4 Florentine tomatoes, well ripe; abundant (12-15) leaves of basil, well perfumed
  • 1 small bunch of "nepitella"
  • 7-8 spoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Cut all the vegetables in chunks or in slices, not too small, then put them in a pan, with an appropriate size (tie very well the small bunch of "nepitella"), then cover with a lid and cook over a low heat. Boil very lightly, taking care that the lid will stick very well (in that case you can put a small weight over the lid in order to keep the vapour inside the pan) to the edges of the pan and cook in this way, without turning (sometimes you can try to move the pieces of vegetables on the bottom of the pan, by shaking it) because the pices or slices of vegetables do not have the melt or break or attach to the bottom: you have to cook this stuff for 45 minutes. At the right time remove the lid, increase the heat a little bit, let the stuff dry for a little bit (it can produce a sort of crust, but take care anything will take a bitter taste, especially on the bottom of the pan) in order it will take more consistency and character, then switch off and serve, like a vegetarian second course or with roasted meats.
The word "Tegamaccio" should not be intended like a pejorative term, but like a "den" of country things which once were considered enough indiscriminate and common.
This type of recipe is typical of the hinterland of Valdicecina and of all the Tuscany "maremme", which are rich of magnificent vegetables with tastes difficult to find. According to this fact we are very furious over the vegetables sold in the supermarkets, or wherever there is an organized trade. Everything is without taste and flavour and it is imported from abroad, especially from France and The Netherlands, which are the first countries in the list concerning with the untastiness of their agriculture products: "acqua ritta!" was the typical sentence of our country areas facing such a food insanities.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati


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