Gurguglione is a typical stew of summer vegetables eaten by the miners of Elba Island.
It was mentioned when I visited the Ginevro gallery, that is a magnetite mine near Capoliveri, now closed because of the competition by developing countries. This stew was a typical dish of the miners of Elba Island, which has always been known for the richness of its mines since the Etruscans began to inhabit it.
A shiver ran down my spine as I entered the mine and I thought of those poor miners who had to venture into the bowels of the earth, with insufficient light and air, and work for 12 hours to excavate by a 35-kilos jackhammer the holes for dynamite. And then, after the explosion, loading the mining trolleys for hours.
In spite of being highly specialized workers, their payroll was so low that they had to keep a veggie garden in order to make ends meet and have enough food for the family. At the time vegetarianism was not an option, and the most of the European population suffered from a chronic deprivation of animal proteins. In the past, it was an entrée, while now it is served as an excellent side dish.
It is composed of the typical summer vegetables, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and onions, and it is a kind of stew that we can find in all Italian regions, with local variations. Some add olives, capers, celery. My mum makes a fricò frying each vegetable separately, due to the difference in cooking time of the various vegetables and then joins them in a tomato sauce rich in garlic and basil.
When these dishes so rich in fats were created, the most of people had such heavy jobs that the abundance of olive oil was not an issue. Yet, it is possible to reduce the quantity of oil if we use a good non-sticking skillet; when the dish was created the most common kind of pan was an iron one.
- 2 pounds green peppers, grossly chopped
- 3 big eggplants, grossly chopped
- 4 zucchini, grossly chopped
- 1 big white or yellow onion, grossly chopped
- 1,5 pounds tomatoes, grossly chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely minced
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely minced
- ½ cup olive oil if you use an iron pan ( ¼ cup for the non-stick one)
- sea salt
- Put all the ingredients in a non-stick heavy skillet over medium-high and sauté for 10 minutes.
- Cover with a lid, then reduce heat to moderately low.
- Season with salt and cover it with the lid, so vegetables will cook in their own liquid, and make it simmer for at least a couple of hours until it is cooked