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Fricandò: the vegetable stew recipe from Romagna

Fricandò recipe, a fresh vegetables stew

The 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. This dish’s ingredients are cooked 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.

Fricandò is a vegetable stew that celebrates the abundance of summer gardens.

It takes shape in the vegetable garden, which reminds me of Cicero’s statement 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 became a place of open-air study where students learned to distinguish and use plants.

Hence, from now on, it has become a permanent part of the landscape and has become 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 introduced 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. This practice is no longer a response to poverty but rather about offering older people an opportunity to be active local community members.

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 it a beautiful story?

Fricandò recipe, a fresh vegetables stew


Fricandò recipe, a fresh vegetables stew

Fricandò recipe

The garden has a recreational and productive vocation that makes those who do it feel good.

Thinking about my time in the garden, I find only happy memories.

For a few years, I owned one 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 bring 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 is thick in this dish.

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, but you can dress pasta or crostini (warm bread and fricandò at room temperature). Of course, eating with piadina romagnola or grilled slices of polenta (even with polenta fritta) is perfect.

Friggione, a versatile sauce made with onion and tomato, and fricandò are similar recipes from the Italian traditional cucina povera. Both are worth trying.

Buona cucina, Monica

On Tv

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

Fricandò recipe (vegetable stew)

Fricandò is a flavorful, rustic vegan and vegetarian stew that celebrates summer. The recipe belongs to the cucina povera of Romagna.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Emilia-Romagna
Keyword Fricandò, Vegetable stew
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 medium-sized yellow or white onion or 5 shallots
  • 2 small potatoes, about 500 g
  • 1 medium-sized carrot
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 small yellow or red bell pepper
  • 4 small zucchini, light or dark
  • 5 tomatoes or 200 g tomato puree
  • 100 ml of water at room temperature
  • 100 ml of olive oil
  • 5 g of salt


  • Wash vegetables and peel potatoes and onion (removing the inner green core if there is any).
  • Cut all the vegetables into irregular but small pieces, keeping all them separate.
  • Grease the bottom of a pan with olive oil, gently sauté the onion for two minutes.
  • Add the potatoes, cook for 3 minutes while stirring, then add the other vegetables and stir.
  • Add chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce, water, salt and oil. Do not overdo the sauce or tomatoes; fricandò is not "very red".
  • Cook for an hour, even an hour and a half, over low heat, stirring occasionally. If it gets too dry, add a little water. Conversely, if it is too slow, extend the cooking time.
  • Serve the fricandó warm, lukewarm, or at room temperature.

Food tips

  • The vegetables I have listed are a personal choice. You can remove or add more, creating the fricandó you prefer. It is also difficult to define the quantity. Let's say I use about 1 kg of vegetables for 4 people.
  • If you prefer a rustic texture, cut the vegetables into larger pieces. You can also use this side dish as a main dish to dress pasta or make great crostini.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Ricette dell'Emilia-Romagna

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