Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting in the vegetables: Stew!

 Winterizing vegetable dishes can be tough. Cold weather does not make me want to eat cold vegetables or salads. It leaves me craving rich, heavy foods...unfortunately those aren't always high in fiber and nutrients. In this series, I unveil some of my family secrets for happy winter vegetable mooses.

If you missed the first installment, I made PIZZALAD - which is an awesome homemade pizza that is filled with vegetable power.

In this post, I'll share my winter vegetable stew recipe with you. This stew, of course, comes with a story. 

When the fiance and I started dating, we were poor graduate students, and we would make each other dinner pretty often. He actually made me "Engagement Chicken" on one of our early dates, which left me a little afraid and skeptical. Obviously he had no idea about the urban legend that is engagement chicken - he just thought I'd be REALLY impressed that he could cook a chicken. I am. He now cooks all the chickens. I'm happy not to touch them. 

....but I digress. He came over for dinner one day and he found me stirring a soup on the stove. I said 'I made vegetable stew' and he said 'and what else....?'. Evidently vegetable stew did not seem like a tasty or filling meal for him.  

I told him that if he wanted something else when we were done, we could go find some more food, and I presented my soup.

Two bowls later, he shut up and was stuffed to the brim. Now, he requests this very versatile soup. I'll tell you ALL of my secrets for making this healthy and satisfying meal.

Vegetable Stew

1 medium onion, red or white
4 zucchini (or two yellow squash + two zucchini, or 4 yellow squash)
1 32 oz can diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can black beans, drained
1 14.5 oz can white beans, drained
1/4 c minced garlic
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp rosemary
2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp sugar (to taste)
1 tbsp good olive oil
salt to taste

 Directions: In large pot, heat oil. Roughly chop one onion and start to saute. Roughly chop squashes and add HALF to onion in pot. Saute until the onion and zucchini begin to brown. Add garlic and saute 2 more minutes. Add rosemary, paprika, and black pepper.  Add tomato products and beans + 2 cans of water. Taste, then add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Bring to boil, then add remaining squash. Cook until the sauteed zucchini start to break down and the soup begins to thicken. The squash added later should be tender, but not falling apart. This usually is about an hour process for me. Add salt at the end, to taste. 


Adding the zucchini in stages allows some of the zucchini to break down and release their starches, giving you a thicker soup with some good mouthfeel from the zucchini you added later.

Browning the initial vegetables is SUPER IMPORTANT. So much of the taste happens there. Yum.

You add the salt last because cooking beans with salt tends to make them tough and granule-y. If you don't like the starchy, gritty texture of beans, try cooking them without salt and adding the salt in later. I swear it makes a much creamier product.

I add vegetables dependent on how they look at the market. We added asparagus into the batch pictured above. Mushrooms, peppers, and cauliflower have also made appearances. If you don't like zucchini, I'd recommend using cauliflower and potatoes to get the same starchy feel. 

This freezes AMAZINGly. Stick it in 1 cup servings into freezer bags and have an awesome lunch any day.

What is your favorite winter vegetable?

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