Stews warm the body and soul. Unfortunately, many stew recipes rely on fatty meats and other heavy ingredients. Instead, my stews use a variety of vegetables, lean meats and other proteins and whole grains to make them nutritious, delicious and satisfying.
Stews are a lifesaver during those busy weeknights when you are tempted to order takeout. Instead, make a big pot on the weekend, enjoy some right away and refrigerate the rest to be reheated for a fast, hot, nutritious meal during the week. Alternatively, you can freeze individual portions for up to three months. Here are three of my favorite good-for-you winter stews.
AFRICAN PEANUT STEW
This deeply flavorful vegetarian stew, brimming with a rainbow of hearty vegetables—sweet potato, eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes and collard greens—is made rich, creamy and totally irresistible with a generous scoop of peanut butter. Peanuts on top echo the flavor and add a delightful crunchy contrast. Makes six servings.
1 medium eggplant (one pound), peeled and cut into one-inch cubes (about six cups)
3 Tablespoons peanut oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 large onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons ground
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 14-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
½ pound collard greens, tough rib removed and discarded, leaves chopped (about three cups)
½ pound sweet potato, peeled, cut into one-inch cubes (about 1¾ cups)
2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
¼ cup natural-style peanut butter
6 Tablespoons chopped peanuts
1. Preheat the broiler on high.
2. On a sheet pan, toss the eggplant with one tablespoon of the peanut oil and one-half teaspoon of the salt. Broil about six inches from the heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, the remaining half teaspoon of salt, the cinnamon and turmeric, and cook, stirring, for one minute.
4. Stir in the broth, tomatoes with their juices, collards, sweet potatoes, bell peppers and broiled eggplant, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
5. Stir in the peanut butter, and simmer until it is incorporated, three minutes. The stew may be refrigerated or frozen at this stage. Just before you serve it, garnish with the chopped peanuts.
SUNDAY SAUCE BEEF STEW
My Italian neighbors growing up called the long-cooking, Chianti-infused, meaty tomato sauce they served at dinner after church each week “Sunday sauce.” This dish takes the flavor and spirit of that sauce and adds extra chunks of lean, tender beef as well as mushrooms and carrot coins, turning it into a true comfort-food stew. Serve it in big bowls with a hunk of crusty whole-grain bread. Makes eight servings.
2 pounds lean stew beef (such as round or chuck shoulder), cut into 1½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 jumbo onion, chopped
8 ounces white button mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry red wine, such as Chianti
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 pound carrots, cut into ¼-inch-thick coins
Chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves, optional
1. Season the meat with the salt and pepper. Heat one-and-a-half tablespoons of the oil in a large (six-quart) pot over medium-high heat. Add half the meat, and cook, turning once, until browned, five to six minutes. Transfer the browned meat to a plate, then add the remaining one-and-a-half tablespoons of oil to the pot, and repeat browning with the remaining meat.
2. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, six to seven minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they have released their liquid, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, one minute more.
3. Add the wine and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any brown bits, until the wine is mostly evaporated, four to five minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, oregano, basil, rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato sauce and carrots. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the meat is tender, about two hours.
4. Serve in bowls topped with fresh parsley with a hunk of whole-grain bread or over cooked farro (an ancient form of wheat that Italians love).
AMAZING MAKE-AHEAD BOUILLABAISSE
If you’re looking for a deeply flavorful, elegant-yet-homey meal that’s a breeze to prepare—and perfect to serve company—bookmark this recipe. It is one of my personal go-tos for dinner guests, and it has never failed to impress. You make the herb-and-saffron-infused tomatoey base ahead of time and refrigerate or, if you’d like, freeze it, then just get it bubbling again and add some fresh seafood a few minutes before serving. Dish it up into big bowls with some crusty bread or cooked whole-grain farro. Makes eight servings.
4 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 one-by-three-inch strip lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler to do this)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 large cloves garlic, minced
4 cups fish stock
1 large fennel bulb (about one pound), cored and thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can plus one 14-ounce can low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 generous pinch saffron
½ pound bay scallops
½ pound large, cleaned shrimp
½ pound firm white fish and/or shellfish, cut into one-inch chunks
¼ cup coarsely cut, chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1. Tie together the parsley sprigs, thyme, bay leaf and lemon zest with a piece of kitchen twine.
2. In a six-quart Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about six minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.
3. Add the fish stock, fennel, tomatoes with their juices, two-and-a-half cups of water, the herb bundle, salt, pepper and saffron, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, until the fennel is tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Add more salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the fish stock. The bouillabaisse may be made ahead up to this stage and refrigerated or frozen.
4. To continue, add the scallops, shrimp and fish to the simmering liquid, and cook until the seafood is just cooked through, five to six minutes. Serve and garnish with the remaining chopped parsley.
All recipes excerpted from You Have It Made by Ellie Krieger. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.