I admit, I've seen Rachel Ray a couple of times since we got satellite TV, and I'm not a huge fan of her. Too perky, too like a teenager trying to talk adults into something. But this morning, in the wonderful hour when we adults were awake and the kids were still asleep, we watched her show, and she made a 30 minute vegetable stew that looked too delectable to resist. We had to try it. Tonight.
Now we are carnivores here, well resigned to the idea that a dinner without meat just isn't satisfying. But at the same time, I have been looking for ways to use more vegetables, and less meat, and make some wonderful whole foods, from scratch meals in the process. I bought "Laurel's Kitchen", but I was kind of disappointed in that the book was written in the fat and egg phobic 70's and early 80's. Good fats are essential. What we don't need is more hydrogenated vegetable oil. Our ancestors didn't extract oil from grains and beans, did they?
Anyway, I digress. Tonight's vegetable stew went like this: First I chopped an onion and a half (made easy since I still have so many onions from my garden!), heated up some olive oil, and tossed it in. Next I whacked four cloves of garlic (New, fun technique I have learned from several Food Network chefs; place the unpeeled garlic clove under a broad knife, then whack it with your hand. The hard peeling slips off, leaving the tender insides somewhat broken up and falling apart, no mincing required) and tossed them in the pot. I threw in a little salt and pepper and a fresh bay leaf, let them cook for a while, then put in two small zucchinis, chopped, one eggplant, cut into small pieces, and two red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces. Salt and pepper again, then cover and let it cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Then I added about a cup of chicken broth, and a large can of crushed tomatoes. Rachel recommended fire roasted tomatoes, but since my grocery store did not carry them, I added a few drops of liquid smoke to add flavor. That, and a small splash of Merlot. I cooked the whole thing for another fifteen minutes, and served with toasted cheese bread.
The verdict: What meat? We did not miss meat at all, it was delicious, and quick and easy, and fit into the "whole foods" resolution I have unofficially made for myself for the new year.