How to Make "Bomba Calabrese" | Spicy Calabrian Condiment
Bomba Calabrese ("Calabrian Bomb") is a spicy paste condiment made from a mixture of pickled vegetables. In this recipe, we'll share with you the traditional method of making Bomba at home. This same technique can be used to make other pickled vegetables, so we'll provide instructions for doing so along the way.
First, a quick disclaimer: there is a risk of botulism or spoilage when jarring and pickling at home. Please make this recipe at your own risk, follow all kitchen safety procedures, and check carefully for spoilage before consuming.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make this recipe here:
Makes two 10 oz. jars of Bomba Calabrese.
For this recipe, you will need:
2 large eggplants
2 large bell peppers
2 large zucchini
3 fresh spicy peppers, or to taste (Calabrian is obviously the best choice, but feel free to substitute with a pepper of your choice)
A vegetable press (optional, see below)
A pasta pot (optional, see below)
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
Vinegar (white distilled, white wine, or red will work)
2 tbsp. capers
2 peeled garlic cloves
Two 10 oz. mason jars (or one 20 oz. jar)
Extra virgin olive oil
If you want to make a simpler jar of pickled vegetables, you can easily pick one (or even a combo) of the above vegetables and skip the rest. In that case, you would just need the kitchen tools/containers, salt, vinegar, olive oil and (optionally) some diced garlic and sliced chili pepper. Keep in mind that the vegetables lose a lot of volume, so you'll want plenty. In our experience, it takes about 4 eggplants, 4 large bell peppers, or 4 large zucchini to fill a 10 oz. jar, but having extra can't hurt.
Wash your vegetables very thoroughly. Slice the eggplants into spears (think french fries) and place them in a large mixing bowl. Dust them liberally with salt. Add plenty, the salt is for sucking out the water so most of it won't stay in the vegetables.
Next, clean the seeds out of the peppers and cut them into lengthwise strips. Place these with the eggplants and salt again.
Cut the zucchini into half-disc slices. If you're pickling zucchini alone, start by scraping out and discarding the seeds with a spoon. Leave the seeds in for Bomba. Place the zucchini in with the other vegetables and salt again.
Finally, slice or chop the spicy peppers and add these in as well. Be sure to keep the seeds where most of the heat is!
Toss all of the vegetables together to make sure they're evenly coated in salt. Now comes the fun part...
The vegetables need to be pressed for 24 hours so as to squeeze out as much excess water as possible. A vegetable press makes the job quite simple, but if you don't have one (like us) you'll have to get creative!
One pretty common tool we found helpful was a pasta pot with a colander insert. We placed the vegetable mix in the pot, inserted the drainer, then placed a heavy weight inside. You can also put the vegetables into a large bowl or pot, cover with a suitably-sized plate or cover, and place a weight on top of that. A lot of water will seep up so make sure that anything the water can touch is clean and food safe!
Let the mix release water for 24 hours.
The next day, gather the vegetables in handfuls and squeeze them very hard until you've removed as much water as possible. Place the drained vegetables in a large mixing bowl and discard the water.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes (skip if you're not making Bomba) and toss all together. Place them back into your pressing apparatus and fill it with just enough vinegar to cover the vegetables. Set up the press again and let it sit for another 24 hours.
The next day, repeat the squeezing procedure again to get all the excess vinegar out of the vegetables. This time, place them into the bowl of a food processor or blender, along with the capers and garlic (if you're not making Bomba, skip this blending part entirely).
Blend the vegetables into a fine mince. Time to jar!
Clean the jars and lids with hot, soapy water and rinse them thoroughly. Place them into a large pot of water so that they are completely submerged and boil for at least one hour, up to two. Turn off the heat and let the water cool until you can handle the jars, but keep them submerged until you're ready to fill them.
Fill a jar up with Bomba mixture and press it down very well into the jar. A long pestle-type tool can help to really mash it down tightly. Fill the jar again and keep pressing down until the jar is full to the neck. If you're pickling individual vegetables, we recommend adding a little diced garlic and/or chili pepper between each layer.
If any excess liquid seeps up while pressing down, drain it before continuing.
Finish by pouring just enough olive oil on the top surface to completely cover the Bomba or pickles. Let the jar sit for 15-30 minutes. If the oil is absorbed, keep adding more until the mix stays covered.
Now, you simply close the jar tight and let it sit for 3-4 weeks or more before eating! Try Bomba on a sandwich, cooked into a meat dish, or as a salad condiment. Be sure that, every time you scoop some out, you add more olive oil to cover.