Winter vegetable stew

Feb.10.10 § Leave a comment

I finally got a snow day. Well, half a snow day. I came home around lunch time and unlike some 20,000 other Delmarva Power customers, I had power! So, I cooked.

I saw a cooking show about “Vegan Beef Stew” over Super Bowl Weekend. Just the name annoyed me. You can’t make something with those two words right next to each other, there is no such thing as vegan beef. This is coming from someone who spent one month of her entire life trying to be vegan and about three years totally failing at being a vegetarian. But don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables. I love them so much I know for a fact that recipes can stand on their own without meat, so why falsely name them? It’s vegetable stew. And it’s just as God damned good.
Seeing that show reminded me of my favorite winter stew recipe. I couldn’t believe it was February already and I hadn’t made this recipe yet. It’s been my favorite for two years since I got the Veganomicon cookbook. This is my version of their vegan Cholent.

Cholent is a traditional Jewish stew served on Shabbat. I learned all about Shabbat in the french film God Is Great, I’m Not. It was cute, and so is Audrey Tautou.

Anyway, before trying this recipe I had never tasted Cholent — with or without meat — but the vegan version tasted a whole lot like my grandmother’s beef stew. That beef stew was my favorite when I was a kid. I’d ask her to make it even in the summer time — who cares if it’s not cold enough outside, that stuff was GOOD.
But if you know me,  you know I don’t cook meat at home (EXCEPT for bacon). And in 2007 when I was exploring vegan cooking, I wouldn’t have known where to start trying to make stew without meat if it hadn’t been for this recipe.
I’ve slightly altered it. I didn’t have garlic — which for me is sacriligous, but there is a blizzard out there — so I substituted garlic powder. I didn’t include any fake meat because I don’t really like it and they didn’t have the kind I do like at the Giant. I used red potatoes instead of regular or Yukon. I would prefer Yukon Gold, they’re the starchiest so they make a stew nice and thick. But like I said, it’s Snowpocalypse/Stormageddon and the grocery store was out of normal ingredients. The stew is still vegan and it’s still so delicious.

There’s two feet of snow out there. It’s above my Moon Boots. This was the perfect thing to warm me up.

Winter vegetable stew

2 tbsps olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 tsp celery salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup red wine, I used Barefoot Cabernet
4 large red potatoes, washed and chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup brown lentils
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups (1 can) Kidney beans
1 cup frozen Lima beans or peas

Directions
Saute the onions in oil for about five minutes. Add seasonings and carrots and stir for about another minute. Deglaze with the wine. Add potatoes, bay leaves, lentils, tomato sauce and water. Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add Kidney and Lima beans and heat through. Serve and try not to eat the whole pot all by yourself in one sitting.

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