Ask anyone over the age of 40 what kind food they grew up eating, and you’ll more than likely get this answer: meat and potatoes.
I’m in the over-40 age group, so you know what my answer would be. But as I get older, my penchant for meat at every meal has gone the way of my hair: There’s still some there, but it’s less and less every day.
There are a couple of reasons why I’ve cut back on my meat consumption. And they’re both health-related. Meat contains cholesterol. And since my cholesterol numbers are borderline high, anything I can do to keep those in check means a better quality of life. And second, it’s helped me keep my weight down.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a couple of meatless recipes that are as good as any their meat-laden cousins contain. I wrote about a Roasted Vegetable Lasagna in this space in mid-September. It was better than any meat lasagna I’ve sampled.
And the following French Vegetable Stew recipe, which I just finished making, compares favorably with any beef or venison stew that’s crossed my palate.
French Vegetable Stew
2 teaspoons olive oil
2½ cups chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground fennel (she uses a coffee grinder to grind fennel seed)
4 medium potatoes, cubed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
About ¾ cup white wine, divided
2 cups peeled carrot chunks
1 15-ounce can Great Northern or other white beans, drained and rinsed
1½ cups frozen peas
Pinch or two of kosher salt
Warm the olive oil in a soup pot. Add the leeks, garlic, fennel and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. During that time, the liquid will start to caramelize, so use a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan.
Add the potatoes and tomatoes, stir, and cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Add carrots, cover, and gently simmer until the vegetables are tender. (The cooking time will vary depending on how small you cut the vegetables).
Add the beans, peas and ½ cup of wine and stir gently for 2 to 3 minutes until the stew is thoroughly hot and beans and peas have softened.