Vegetable fricandò recipe is a kind of rustic ratatouille and a typical recipe from the peasant tradition of Romagna.
The Italian dictionary reports that the term is an Italian graphic and phonetic adaptation of the French fricandeau: a dish where many ingredients cook in the same pan as a stew.
The name, however, also has a Latin origin. In fact, it derives from frico, which means sizzle and refers to the base of oil (and onion) that kicks off the preparation.
Basically, fricandò is a stew that celebrates the abundance of summer vegetables.
It is practically born in the vegetable garden, which makes me think of Cicero when he wrote that whoever owns a library next to a vegetable garden has everything.
History of the vegetable garden
The meeting between human beings and the vegetable garden, and with agriculture more generally, occurred a few million years ago when the first humans left nomadic life for a sedentary life.
The garden, though still primitive, shows its usefulness early on.
Over the centuries, medieval monasteries spread the culture of the kitchen garden. And from that moment, they became fruitful and beautiful to admire.
The hortus conclusus is the space bordered by the walls that protect convents all over Europe. It was an era characterized by ever-moving armies, famine, looting, and pestilence, and the walled garden offered food and herbs for pharmacopeia.
Still in the middle of the Middle Ages, with the emergence of the first universities, the vegetable garden also becomes a place of open-air study where students learn to distinguish and use plants.
Hence from now, it becomes a permanent part of the landscape and becomes domestic. You know, I mean that every farmhouse has its own garden.
The first urban gardens spread between the 15th and 18th centuries.
In Europe, the first industrial revolution causes an exodus from the countryside to the cities, and the new emigrants introduce the custom of preparing a garden to support the family’s food needs. For this reason, city institutions and religious communities make land available to cultivate to this scope.
After World War II, many Italian municipalities follow this ancient custom and allocate public land to those who want to garden in the city. It is no longer a response to poverty. Instead, it is about offering older people an occasion to be active members in the local community.
A few decades later, the vegetable garden gained other followers, the urban gardener, and new spaces such as condominium roofs and terraces.
The vegetable garden has always been a part of human life. Isn’t that a beautiful story?
The garden has a recreational and productive vocation that makes those who do it feel good.
If I think about the time I spent in the garden, I find only happy memories.
For a few years, I had one of my own and taught a series of courses for aspiring urban farmers.
Finally, as a child, I spent many hours in the garden learning about the flavors of fruits and vegetables and the difference between unripe and ripe.
At home, fricandó was born from these moments in the garden.
Grandma and I would take a little of this and a little of that to take to the kitchen.
We used to make it with tomatoes picked still hot and juicy from the plant, but a good puree is fine too. The important thing is to shrink the sauce, which in this dish is thick.
The simplicity and robust taste of fricandò tell of its peasant origin when large pans of vegetables were prepared to feed the (large) family returning from work in the fields.
Fricandò is a side dish you can also use to dress pasta or make excellent crostini (warm bread and fricandò at room temperature). Of course, it is perfect eating with piadina romagnola.
Friggione, a versatile sauce made with tomato passata and onions, and fricandò are similar recipes from the Italian traditional cucina povera. Both are worth trying.
Buona cucina, Monica
I am fond of this recipe I narrated and cooked in an episode of Food Network Italia’s TV program,
L’Italia a morsi, dedicated to Imola, Romagna.
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Fricandò recipe: a fresh vegetables stew
2 small eggplants
1 yellow or red bell bell pepper, large
2 potatoes, about 500 g
4 shallots or 1 onion
5 curly tomatoes or 200 g tomato puree
olive oil, salt to taste.
Cooking note: the vegetables I have included are not indicative. You add or remove following your taste or what you have available in the garden
Peel potatoes and scallions or onion.
Cut all the vegetables into irregular but small pieces, keeping them separate.
Grease the bottom of a pan with olive oil, and gently sauté the shallots for a few minutes with the tomatoes. Add the potatoes, cook for a couple of minutes, stirring sometimes, then add the other vegetables.
Stir, and add salt and oil.
Cook for 30-40 minutes over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally.
If it gets too dry, pour in a little water.
Serve the fricandó hot or lukewarm.
Once cooled, store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
It is a side dish you can also use to dress pasta or make great crostini.