Canazzu, or canazzo, is a flavorful mélange of stewed vegetables consisting mainly of eggplant, much like caponata. This rustic Mediterranean dish is similar to the southern Italian ciambotta, the French ratatouille, and the Spanish pisto. The word canazzu means ugly dog and the name implies a dish that is thrown together quickly and looks rather homely. The vegetables are cut into large chunks and cooked together. Canazzu is really a beautiful dish if not over cooked; otherwise, it can become an ugly but still delicious mess.
Don’t be put-off by the vinegar in this dish, as it gives it a slight tang and makes the flavors pop out. The vegetables will not taste vinegary.
SICILIAN VEGETABLE STEW: CANAZZU
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6 to 8 side-dish servings.
1/3 cup white vinegar or 1/2 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 medium potatoes (1 1/2 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggplants (1 pound each), skin on, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 assorted bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange), seeded, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1½-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 1/4 cups crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
3 large fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Garnish: Extra-virgin olive oil and minced fresh parsley or basil
Combine the vinegar (or white wine) and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Heat oil in a deep 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 6 minutes.
Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Be careful not to burn the onion.
Stir in the eggplants, bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, parsley, basil, bay leaf, and vinegar. Cover with lid and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender, adding a little water if necessary to keep the vegetables from sticking. The vegetables should be fairly dry. Let rest it rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley or basil if desired.