Detox. Let's talk "detoxing", yes? Books go on and on, blogs cite magical formulas. Do you have a detox method, something that works for you, after over-consumption of too-much or too-rich food? My technique is totally simple. For a meal, for a few days, for some time, I return to simple, plant-based food plus protein. My detox staples are simple too, soups, stews and salads. Vegetable soups plus their heartier cousins, vegetable stews. Quick 'n' Easy Raw Salads.
Tuscan Vegetable Stew is the latest in a growing collection of Favorite Seasonal Vegetable Stews. The recipe appeals to me for three reasons, different than other vegetable stews in that collection. It is perfect for "detoxing"!
NO ADDED FAT! Most vegetable stews start off with sautéing the vegetables in a small amount of fat. Now I know full well that "fat is flavor" but just this once, for Tuscan Vegetable Stew, you just throw all the vegetables together in a big pot with tomato juice and let it simmer a few minutes.
TOMATO JUICE Yeah, I loved that Tuscan Vegetable Stew calls for tomato juice, an ingredient I nearly always have on hand. This adds so much concentrated flavor! I think it would be great with "spicy" tomato juice too, the kind you might use in a Bloody Mary, say.
COOK NOW, EAT NOW Most vegetable stews take a few hours or even a day for the flavors to develop. Tuscan Vegetable Stew is ready to eat quick-quick.
VISUAL LEARNERS See that photo? It looks like Tuscan Vegetable Stew is all cauliflower! It's not, there's summer squash, bell pepper and tomato in there too. I just got a little carried away with the beauty and drama of cross-cut cauliflower. :-)
RECIPE for TUSCAN VEGETABLE STEW
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 10 cups
1 medium zucchini, trimmed, cut in half moons, quarters or chunks
1 medium yellow squash, same
1 bell pepper, diced in large pieces
1/2 onion, cut in half rings
2 medium tomatoes (or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes)
3 cups tomato juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A little cayenne pepper, optional
Water, if needed
1/2 head cauliflower, about 1 pound, cut in florets and cross-cuts
Fresh herbs, chopped or dried herbs such as Italian seasoning or herbes de provence or DIY Dried Herbs
Leave the heat off for now, but in a large pot, collect the zucchini, yellow squash, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, tomato juice, cider vinegar, salt, cayenne. Gauge the amount of liquid, is there enough room to add the cauliflower later? If not, add water, I needed about a half cup once, another full cup another time. Now turn on the heat and bring the stew to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer and let cook just until the squash are almost tender, about 15 minutes.
Add cauliflower and herbs, nestling into the liquid if need be. Return to a boil and let cook until cauliflower is tender but not mushy, again about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs, serve and enjoy!
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
COLOR For the most color contrast with all the tomato-red, use two zucchinis and a yellow or red bell pepper.
CAULIFLOWER CROSS-CUTS I got carried away with the cauliflower cross-cuts, they look so pretty! But they're harder to serve and eat. The next time, I'll stick with small florets plus a handful of cross-cuts, just enough for the first servings.
BROCCOLI? The inspiring recipe called for broccoli instead of cauliflower and I think it would be great too!
HEARTY ADDITIONS? I loved Tuscan Vegetable Stew plain but the inspiring recipe called for adding store-bought tortellini to the stew along with the cauliflower. I made it that way the first time and it was yummy! But I wished that I'd cooked the tortellini separately. Eight ounces of tortellini from Trader Joe's (good stuff!) didn't look like a lot when it went in the pot but totally took over once it swelled up. Next time, I'd use only four ounces and cook it separately. The inspiring recipe also added a can of white beans, I didn't try that but think it would be good, to my taste, it would be a choice, tortellini or beans, not both.
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MORE FAVORITE COLD-WEATHER VEGETABLE STEW RECIPES~ Cabbage & White Bean Stew ~
~ Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ Sweet Potato Curry with Red Lentils, Roasted Peppers & Spinach ~
~ Favorite Seasonal Vegetable Stews ~
10 recipes plus 10 tips & techniques
~ more vegetable stew recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Squash & Carrot Stew ~
~ Mediterranean Eggplant ~
~ Slow Cooker Curried Vegetable Stew ~
~ more meatless main dish recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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