Il Fricando di Casa Mia

Mixed Slow-Cooked Vegetables

The French word fricandeau describes a veal dish with sauce. In the dialect of Rome, transliterated into fricandò, it came to mean a medley, a hodgepodge, and, metaphorically, a messy situation. From there it became the name of a dish of widely assorted vegetables, no longer related to the original French cooking term. A “mess” it may be, but a gloriously exuberant one.

It is a preparation so susceptible to improvisation and individual style that nearly every family I know makes a fricandò of its own. The one given here is mine. The vegetables I like to use are peppers, fresh tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, and zucchini. The flavor base is olive oil, onion, and garlic, chopped coarse. The vegetables cook together in a single pot, but as you will find in the recipe, they go in at different times. Basil and hot pepper provide the finishing touch of fragrance and spice.

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  • 1 sweet bell pepper, preferably yellow, but if unavailable, red
  • 3 small or 2 medium zucchini
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onion sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped rather coarse
  • pounds ripe plum tomatoes, or cups canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium eggplant or ¾ pound small eggplants
  • ½ pound young green beans
  • 8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper, or to taste
  • Salt


  1. Remove the bell pepper’s core and seeds, skin it raw with a peeler, and cut it lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide strips.
  2. Soak the zucchini in cold water for 20 minutes.
  3. Put the oil and onion in a 12-inch sauté pan and turn on the heat to medium. When the onion is halfway to being tender, add the garlic. Stir, cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then add the bell pepper. Turn over all the ingredients once or twice.
  4. While the vegetables are simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil. Drop in the fresh tomatoes, boil for 1 to 2 minutes, then drain and set aside to cool. (Omit this step if using canned tomatoes.)
  5. Wash the eggplant in cold water, cut off green stem, cut into 1-inch cubes, add to the pan, and turn down the heat to medium low.
  6. Trim both ends off from all the green beans, wash the beans, and add them to the pan. Turn over with the other ingredients.
  7. Drain the zucchini and scrub them under running water with a rough cloth to remove any grit embedded in the skin. Trim away both ends from each zucchini, cut the zucchini into 1-inch pieces, and add them to the pan. Turn over all the vegetables 2 or 3 times.
  8. Peel the fresh tomatoes, cut them into large pieces, and add them to the pan. (If using canned tomatoes, cut them up and put them in the pan.) Turn up the heat to medium and turn over all the vegetables.
  9. Wash the basil, shake it dry, tear it into small pieces, and add it to the pan, mixing it with the other vegetables.
  10. Add the hot pepper, stir, add salt, stir again 3 or 4 times, and taste and correct for seasoning. The moment all the vegetables are tender when pricked with a fork, the dish is done. If there is more liquid in the pan than seems desirable, raise the heat and boil it away while stirring the vegetables. Allow to cool for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.