Autumn Veggie Stew
Novio likes to tell people that the first time he went to a Trader Joe’s for a few things (this is long before he knew me or my ways, mind you), he didn’t recognize anything in the store. He felt like he was in some alternate-universe market. “Oh come on,” I’ll chide him, “there must have been something there you recognized… milk? eggs? bananas?!?”
“No, really!” he exclaims, “All that strange stuff just dazed me and so I probably couldn’t even see the regular stuff.” Ahh, easily dazed, that Novio of mine.
Last week I stood with him in front of the wondrous bounty of autumn squash at the Farmer’s Market. We engaged in an impromptu game of “What Am I”
Acorn Squash? No.
Spaghetti Squash? These days? Yes! (But BJ? Before Judy, that is… you would have gotten that same dazed look when asking him to positively ID the squash in question)
Kabocha Squash? Ka-who? Whoops – there’s that familiar look again. We’ll table our friend the Kabocha for another post.
Butternut Squash? Yes? Yes! Turns out he’s known of this one even Before Judy! Did he know what to do with a beautiful butternut in the BJ era? Let’s not push it.
So, let’s put together a healthy and delicious autumn stew featuring one of our favorites, the very lovely butternut.
I had a talk with the Kabocha, who originally elbowed his way into this shot. We came to a mutual agreement that his wonderful assets are best featured through roasting. So we’ll be seeing him again very soon. We promise.
Butternut squash is highly versatile (Shhh… don’t tell the Kabocha you heard me say that). I roast butternut squash often, click here for more ideas, and using it as a side or with quinoa or in salads. Butternut squash makes a wonderful soup, especially when paired with an apple. Click here to view that post. And this post will use the butternut combined with other fall veggies to create a stew.
Yams or sweet potatoes will round out this dish well. Add some aromatics and we’re on our way!
“Do we hear our names being called? Present!”
Something fresh and snappy is just the thing to finish it off
But if you don’t sing in the key of C, then throw in some chopped parsley or green onion before serving.
Begin by slicing up an onion and throwing in a pan with hot olive oil along with some chopped ginger. Add your seasonings and allow to cook with the onion for maximum flavor. Cumin goes beautifully with these veggies. So do coriander, powdered ginger (especially if you don’t have fresh on hand), turmeric, and for a little kick, cayenne.
The vegetables cook together with some liquid under a cover. Think of this as a braising- steaming method. Not all the the veggies are submerged at the same time – there’s not that much room in there.
I like to use a combination of wine and broth for braising. But broth alone will do the job just fine. Add the liquid at a higher heat to reduce it by about a third for fuller flavor. Then send in the cut-up veggies. Let the liquid return to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover with lid askew and cook until tender.
Turn this dish into a main meal by adding a 15 -ounce can of drained and rinsed garbanzo beans in the last five minutes of cooking. Then serve over quinoa, millet, couscous. Okay, okay, rice or pasta works too.
Autumn Veggie Stew
2 T. olive oil
1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise, sliced thinly
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. turmeric
dash of cayenne (more, if you like the heat, skip if you don’t)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine (if not using wine, use another 1/2 c. broth)
1 c. vegetable broth (chicken broth can also be used)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into thick slices
3 small/medium yams, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks (use garnet yams or white-flesh yams or a mix)
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans (optional, great if using dish as a main meal, not necessary as a side)
2 T. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
bb NOTE: You can swap out cilantro for an equal amount freshly chopped parsley or sliced green onion.
Heat a deep, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven. Add oil and heat. Add sliced onion and cook over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until soft. As soon as onion begins to get limp, add all ground seasonings (cumin and others) and salt and pepper. Add ginger, stir and cook together until onion is soft. Add garlic and cook for about another minute more.
Turn heat up and add wine and broth. Cook on medium-high until liquid reduces by about a third.
Add butternut squash, carrots and yams. When liquid returns to bubbling, lower heat to medium-low, keeping it at a very gentle simmer. Cover with lid slightly askew and cook for about 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
If using this dish as a main, add garbanzo beans and stir through. Adjust salt and pepper.
Top with fresh cilantro.
Serves about 6 as a main dish – serve over quinoa, millet, couscous, rice or short pasta.
Serves about 8 as a side dish.
Happy Day of Giving Thanks!
Make it a daily thing! (Not All that eating part…)