Wednesday, February 07, 2007

No Need To Stew Over This Stew

Oh the winter outside is frightful, but inside my stew is so delightful...

I have been on the lookout this winter for a hearty stew that doesn’t take all day to make. A hearty stew is a wonderful thing. Hearty stews are filling, satisfying, fragrant, flavorful - they are just wonderful. But, if you do not have all day to stew over a slow-cooked stew, when can you enjoy one?

I recently found a recipe for a fast and easy white bean stew. The recipe was so simple, calling for only garlic, white beans, ham, tomatoes, a leafy green of some sort (recipe called for spinach or arugula), chicken broth and pepper to season. This stew is so simple, so savory and so satisfying.

The entire stew took under twenty minutes to prepare and is really the perfect winter weeknight meal. In a large pot, begin by sauteeing a few cloves of garlic in olive oil. To this, add a 15oz can of stewed tomatoes, 2 cans of small white beans, a few cubes of baked ham, a can of chicken broth and pepper. When the mixture comes to a boil, add your leafy greens. Although the recipe called for either spinach or arugula, I decided to use escarole thinking it would be a bit heartier. This ingredient swap really worked well - the escarole added a nice earthy flavor that I don’t think spinach or arugula would have provided.

For the ham, I asked the butcher at the deli counter to cut a ½ inch slab (for a lack of a better work, but it really looked like a slab of ham) for me. At home, I cut this slab of ham into little cubes and put them in the stew. The ham added a nice meaty texture to the stew that didn’t seem to compromise the slow-cooked taste that this quick stew had.

I served my stew with some crusty Italian bred and called my twenty minute meal a fabulous winter weekday feast.

Until next time...

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