The weather lately has been turning colder. It seems as if it was just last week when I left the flat wearing sandals and short skirts. But at temperatures only creeping up to 16C yesterday, a hearty vegetable stew was on the cards for a lazy Sunday dinner. Passing by the vegetable area at Sainsbury’s, I espied one of my favourite things: swedes (or rutabagas to the Americans). When I first started cooking with swedes, I was really intimidated by them. I even went into the supermarket with a grocery list I had constructed while attempting to create a cookbook recipe that called for swedes, not even knowing what they were; and after wandering the produce aisles, I eventually asked an employee where I could find the swedes, pretending as if I just couldn’t, for the life of me, find them. I didn’t mention that I didn’t know what they looked like.
In any event, now I think they’re lovely. Sweet and starchy balls of root-vegetable goodness, swedes bring you all the gastronomic brilliance of sweet potato but with a firmer texture that holds up well under slow-cooking conditions. And they work marvellously in stews.
This stew is filled with hearty, stick-to-your-ribs ingredients. It has no pretences of being a ‘balanced’ meal, carbohydrate-heavy as it is. But I love it. Plus, the addition of brussel sprouts makes your mother happy. Except they also make me happy. I love brussel sprouts.
- 1 swede, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 brussel sprouts, halved
- 1 large potato (or two small potatoes), cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 400mL water
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp marjoram
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- dash of tamari (or soy sauce)
All right, this recipe is super easy.
Step One Prepare all your vegetable ingredients (chopping). Heat the oil in a big pot, and throw in all your vegetables at once. Stir over medium heat for 3 minutes.
Step Two Add your water, tomato paste, marjoram and bay leaf; stir to combine. Raise the heat until you bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately lower your heat to the lowest setting and cover. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender (specifically the potato and swede pieces). But, better yet, transfer your pot to your smallest burner; turn the burner on to the lowest setting; and allow the pot to simmer while covered for as long as you can stand it (the smell will start to entice you and make you hungry).
Step Three Once you can’t stand it any longer, turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit for at least another 10 minutes. Butter some bread and ladle your stew into a bowl. Splash your stew with a few dashes of tamari. Eat stew with buttery bread.
(I have leftovers for lunch today. Writing about this stew has made me hungry well before lunchtime. Damnit.)
Yields 2 really big servings or 2 good-sized servings and 1lunch-sized serving.