After some deep thought, I've arrived at this conclusion: Mother Nature must read my blog, but the Universe has it in for me. You see, after my last post, in which I grumbled about the heat and the need for more "Fall-like" weather, the temperatures started to actually cool off! "This was more like it", I thought! "You're welcome Los Angeles!", I silently said to people on the street, as if I had some sort of clout with the big Lady controlling the seasons. And then...everything that could keep me from cooking did its darndest stand in the way of me and my cocina.
There was the moving, of course; all that packing and unpacking (I've had my fill of boxes, thank you very much). Then there was discovering that we had a brand new oven in our apartment (hooray!) but no one seemed in a hurry to hook it up for us (we tried, but crucial doodads - technical term - were missing). A sketchy Internet connection has not pleased me, either, but we're dealing with that.
There was also all of the out-of-state travel that we had to do in October, but I can't really complain about that, because we got to spend time with wonderful friends. And we ate well. Really well. And, just between us, if you're ever invited to a wedding that's held at a YMCA camp, GO! And eat as much as you can, because the food is amazing. So amazing that I had to meet the cooks and tell them so. Their response? "This is camp. That's how we roll". And then they set out a platter of handmade mini breakfast quiches. Swoon.
The good news, though, is that we are finally here, moved into our spacious castle, and the cocina has been unpacked and reorganized and looks, if I do say so myself, simply lovely.
I've been breaking in the new oven, filling the new apartment with wonderful smells and filling the refrigerator with the most delicious stew I've tasted in a long while.
Winter Squash Stew
The prep time on this recipe can be a little long, but don't let all the chopping stop you from making this. You'll see from the directions below that once everything is prepped, this stew comes together fast.
This recipe is also open for interpretation. I increased the amount of tomatoes because I wanted a stronger tomato base. *I also added the apples because they pair so well with squash. Using both dried and fresh is not mandatory, I was going for different textures. *The next time I make this, I will likely use 2 cans of beans. Taste as you go and you'll discover what you like. I suggest serving the stew over rice and pairing with a nice crusty bread and a glass of wine.
2 tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5) oz cans diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup dried apple slices -or- two apples cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used Granny Smith + some chopped dried apple slices)*
1 small sugar pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 cups vegetable stock (+ more if needed)
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1 (15 oz) can black beans*, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup dry cooking sherry
Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the broth has thickened.