Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A stew to start a new year

Stews are wonderfully warming on a cold winter’s evening, aren’t they? Nothing soothes better when coming in from the cold than a steaming bowl of goodness. Be they vegetarian or not, stews are hearty and satisfying. 

They're easy to make and they don’t usually dirty up a lot of pots and pans. Ideally a slow cooker or Dutch oven are best suited for stews, depending on how much time you have to devote to overseeing the cooking process. For optimal flavor, braising meats on the stove top will provide much more flavor than simply putting them in a slow cooker. The carmelization of the meat is what provides the key to maximum flavor. But you can also sear/brown meats on the stove top first and then place them in a slow cooker to finish cooking, alongside vegetables, which will help with flavor tremendously. For vegetarian stews, you can usually overlook this step and go straight to the slow cooker.

However, this vegetarian stew calls for sautéing spices and garlic together on the stove top before everything goes into the slow cooker. This activates and releases the flavors of the spices.

It’s a delicious stew. I made it while back and recently came across the recipe again. I think I will make it this weekend. 

It’s perfect for getting more vegetables in to our diet, now that the holidays are over and it’s time to refocus. (Because chocolate is not a vegetable. I guess it could be considered a legume, right? But I digress).

Here it is. 

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

2 tsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. cayenne
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch lengths
2 ½ cups diced peeled eggplant
2 ½ cups sliced zucchini
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup diced onion
28 oz. can stewed tomatoes
15 oz. can garbanzos, drained and rinsed
¾ cup dried currants (or raisins)
1 cup chopped toasted almonds
½ Tbsp. kosher salt


Pour oil into a small frying pan over medium low heat. Add garlic and spices and cook, stirring often until fragrant (1-2 minutes), being careful not to scorch the garlic. Scrape mixture into slow cooker (at least 5 qt.). Add everything else (including juices from canned tomatoes) and stir to combine. Cover slow cooker and cook on high until vegetables are tender to bite and flavors are well blended, 8 to 9 hours.
Serve as is, or ladle about 3 cups of the vegetable mixture into a blender and whirl until smooth (make sure to hold down lid with a towel and take care to avoid steam). Return puree to slow cooker and stir to blend.

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