10.29.2009

{My Vegetable Stew}

For most of the things I cook (not bake) I do not follow use any kind of measurements. I think food should be tweaked and edited to fit personal preferences – and I believe that cooking loosely encourages more creativity and makes you feel more confident about your skills. You don’t have an exact recipe to cling to – instead you rely on your instincts and your taste. If you don’t think you have instincts or taste, I recommend that you go through food blogs, read recipes regularly, and understand new techniques and what foods tend to go together. But don’t be afraid to try new things. What’s the worst that can happen?
However, with regards to baking – ignore everything i just said. I have zero confidence in my baking abilities and am always shocked when things turn out decently. Baking = chemistry. One error and disaster could erupt :).
This vegetable stew is easily manipulated. It starts with a typical Spanish base called a Sofrito – made by cooking down onion, bell pepper, tomato and paprika. You can change any or all of the ingredients to your liking. This is how I make this dish – and I find it hearty and satisfying. I make it about once a week – great on cold rainy days :)
stew 2
Ingredients:
olive oil
1/2 a green bell pepper, chopped very small
1/2 to 1 full yellow onion (depending on how much you like onion)
1 clove of garlic – smashed – skin removed
grated tomatoes – about half a cup give or take
about a teaspoon of pimenton (spanish smoked paprika) – feel free to add more or reserve some depending on your taste
fresh cranberry beans in shells – as many as you want
italian flat beans – again, as many as you want
small red or white potatoes, quartered
carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
can of san marzano whole tomatoes and juice
bell pepper, cut into big pieces
kale –> this is my favorite part!!
salt/pepper
touch of heavy cream – vegans can skip this step as it is just as delicious without!
Procedure:
1.) Wash and prepare all of the vegetables. Shell cranberry beans (i love doing this!). Snap flat beans into 1.5 inch pieces. Let kale sit in bowl of water to allow any dirt to move to the bottom then cut into big leafy pieces – get rid of any tough stems.
cranberry
beans
2.) Drizzle olive oil into a big pot – 2-3 turns around the bottom of the pan should be good. Heat and add finely chopped onions and green bell pepper. Throw in the smashed garlic clove. Stir around and cook down a bit until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add grated tomato and pimenton. Stir and cook for about 2-3 minutes. This is the sofrito base. This mixture provides flavor for the rest of the vegetables to take on.
sofrito
3.) Add potatoes, carrots, bell pepper, cranberry beans, flat beans to the pot. Stir into sofrito and let cook for about a minute or 2. Add as many of the canned tomatoes as you like – I use an entire can plus all of the juice because I adore tomatoes. This liquid plus the liquid that will come out of the vegetables should be enough to create a sauce – however, if you think things are too dry, add some water at this point.***SALT VEGETABLES at this point. I am convinced that this step helps the water come out of the veggies. Cover and let cook.
stew
4.) Let the vegetables cook, stirring on occasion, until they are soft and tender. Depending on how you like your vegetables, the time will vary.
5.) Once the vegetables are to your liking, add kale – kale only needs a few minutes to wilt and absorb the liquid.
6.) Add a touch of cream just to make the sauce richer and heat through.
7.) I serve it with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of feta cheese, but it is delicious plain as well.
Enjoy!

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