Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sweet Potato & Carrot Stew With Chard, Red Quinoa, Salad

[EDITED - to allow insertion of missing ingredient]

About three days ago (?) I had this urge to cook up some lovely root vegetables - I get this way in the autumn, just as I go crazy over Anything Green in the spring. I found a recipe in my slowcooker cookbook, but soon found I didn't have all the ingredients - short on carrot, no parnips, not even half enough mushrooms - oh dear! So the above dish is what I finally made, bearing about as much relationship to the original as a cat has to a dog. The idea for using caraway seeds, however, belongs to the original. Adding green leaves to the pot (in my case chard) was mine. It looked and smelled fabulous, and it tasted lovely, just lovely, with no fancy spices (unless you count the caraway seed), letting the flavour of the vegetables shine through. NOTE: Although I made this in my slowcooker, it could just as easily be cooked on the top of the stove. Your choice.

We had it with red quinoa and preceded it, as usual, with a lovely crisp salad.

What went in the pot:

1 small onion, chopped very fine
3 large stalks of celery, also very finely chopped
3-1/2 ounces mushrooms
2 carrots
1 sweet potato
3 dried mushrooms, soaked for 20 minutes and finely chopped (stems discarded)
1/2 cup TVP chunks
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1-1/2 tsp caraway seed
2 Tbsp wholewheat flour
2 cups homemade vegetable stock
salt and black pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper (red would be nice for a change too, I think), chopped
half a bunch - about 7 ounces - fresh chard leaves, cut or torn into manageable pieces

I put all but the last two ingredients (the green papper and the chard) into the slowcooker and left it on high for three hours. At that time I gave it a quick stir (my it smelled good!) added the chopped green pepper, gave it another stir, then laid the chard leaves over the top, snapped this photo . . .

. . . and put the top back on quickly, timing it for 15 or so minutes, since I guessed the pepper would still have texture at the end of that time and that the chard wouldn't have disintegrated but would certainly have wilted. (Guess who had never done this in a slowcooker before! LOL)

Well, it worked just fine. To serve, I pulled the leaves out with a large fork and laid them a large (in this case square) platter, saving the ones that had been in contact with the stew for the centre of the platter. Then I piled the root vegetables etc. in the centre (yes, the green pepper was just right!) and cut a few wedges of lemon juice for the chard.

We had it with red quinoa and preceded it, as usual, with a lovely crisp salad.

The quinoa is the kind I was writing about in an earlier blog this week. It was the first time I had used it - or even tasted it - and I have been given some hints on how to cook it very nicely by the person behind the counter. I decided, however, that for the first try I would like to see what it tasted like on its own, not 'messed around' with other flavours! It's lovely and nutty and imho a welcome change from plain ol' white quinoa! I LOVE the colour as well as the taste! And I keep thinking what a hit it would be on a buffet table.

The salad is of course another one of my crazy concoctions that helped me to get over my general dislike for 'boring old greens'. Snowpeas, craisins (dried cranberries, to those who live on the other side of the world, maybe) and apple made it a little different - but that doesn't stop me adding onion. I feel greens never taste quite right without at least a little onion, red onion being a favourite of mine (and boo-hoo I was out of them too!) The dressing - can't quite remember that now, but a good guess would be rice vinegar and balsamic vinegar with, maybe, a little pureed fruit? Or did I use a little sherry or mirin? Hmmmmm!

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