Winter Vegetable Stew: Sausage Optional

Now that fall and winter vegetables are appearing in farmers’ markets and supermarkets, my appetite for them is increasing. Nothing is quite as satisfying as produce in season. When I researched recipes for a winter vegetable stew, however, they all came up short for a variety of reasons. First was the use of two vegetables that always result in a puree when cooked: sweet potatoes and winter squash. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both, but they are best prepared in their own right: made into a sweet potato or squash soup, mashed as a side, or baked or roasted.

I was after a combination of winter vegetables that could hold their shape during cooking and justify the name of stew. For that reason I developed the following recipe which is not only gluten-free but can be served for vegetarians on its own and can be accompanied with grilled bratwurst for meat eaters.

When choosing winter vegetables, look for firm and small. A cauliflower head can be the size of your own or smaller and more compact. Go for small. Turnips can be the size of kiwi fruit or as large as a regulation softball. Look for small turnips.

A rutabaga can be the size of your fist or almost the size of your head. Go for fist.

A parsnip can be 6 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide at its top, or it can be as long as 12 inches and commensurately wide. Go for the petit parsnip, please.

The reason I am making a point of size is that all too often large vegetables have grown that way at the expense of texture. In short, they can be woody and fibrous inside. Carrots are the only exception I can think of; they tend to be firm and sweet no matter how large or small.

I buy organic vegetables wherever possible, and yes, I know all the debate about is organic really organic.

And when it comes to flavor, let’s be honest. Meat and its amino acids do add a depth of flavor to a soup or stew. So to boost the flavor of this winter vegetable stew I have added tomato paste (among a cook’s best friends) and gluten-free tamari (soy) sauce. For protein I added lentils, a very German ingredient and one of my grandfather Herman Berghoff’s favorites.

The final result was a rich, lovely vegetable stew that could be called a stew.

And the meat-eaters in our family really relished the grilled bratwurst (purchase fresh and uncooked, please).

You can vary the stew to suit any of these winter vegetables: onions, leeks, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, cauliflower, white potatoes. Just keep the quantities the same.

winter-vegetable-stew

Winter Vegetable Stew

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 medium onion diced Or 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 1 firm, young parsnip, trimmed, peeled, chopped Or 1 medium turnip, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled, cut in 1-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 pound (8 ounces) white or brown button mushrooms, stemmed, halved
  • 1 small cauliflower, cored, cut into 2-inch florets
  • 2 quarts prepared low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed, cleaned of debris
  • 1 pound skin on new red or Yukon gold potatoes, halved if small, quartered if medium
  • 4 tablespoons Simple Gluten-Free Flour or Bob's Red Mill One for One GF flour
  • 1 pound Grilled Bratwurst, optional, recipe follows

Instructions

  1. In a 6-quart pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add onion or leek and celery and sauté, stirring, until translucent but not brown.
  2. Add the parsnip or turnip, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, vegetable stock, tomato paste and tamari. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer covered for 35 minutes. (If using an electric stove, transfer the pot to another burner on a lower setting.)
  3. After 35 minutes, add the lentils and potatoes. Stir. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Place flour in a small bowl. Gradually add cold water, up to 1 cup, whisking to make a smooth paste. Stir, as needed, into hot stew to thicken to desired consistency. Simmer, stirring gently from the bottom, until all flour is absorbed and cooked.
  5. Ladle into large soup bowls.

Notes

If desired add Grilled Bratwurst cut into bite-size pieces.

http://gffamilyfood.com/recipes/winter-vegetable-stew-sausage-optional/

Grilled Bratwurst

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

8 to 10 uncooked bratwurst links
Water as needed to cover

Place bratwurst in a 10-inch nonstick skillet and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook through, turning once.
Remove bratwurst to a plate and drain skillet.
Either transfer the bratwurst to a grill and grill until browned on all sides, or return the bratwurst to the skillet and sauté, turning, until brown on all sides.
Slice one bratwurst per serving into bite-size pieces.

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