I love stews this time of year. They are comforting and delicious, and make the house smell beautiful when they are cooking. Many people think stew = meat, but vegetarian stews can be wonderful too. The addition of beans, barley or pasta can make them just as rib-sticking as their meaty counterparts. Quick and easy to make, they don’t take as long to cook as stews containing meat either.
This stew contains some of our favourite vegetables, but of course you can change things round to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.
To serve four to six people, you need:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use mild olive oil)
1 red onion, peeled, cut in half and sliced in half moons
1 cup white mushrooms, quartered
3 parsnips, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced in chunky sticks
3 carrots, peeled, cut in half and sliced in chunky sticks
1 red pepper, seeded and cut in chunks
1 can (about 14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, preferably organic
1 can (about 14 ounces) cannellini beans, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon chopped or dried flat leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 350℉ (160℃ or 150℃ for fan ovens).
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large stove top to oven casserole with a lid. Add the onion and sauté gently until it begins to soften. Add mushrooms and stir fry for a few moments longer. Add the parsnips, carrots and red pepper and stir until coated in the oily oniony mixture.
Add the tomatoes, beans, bay leaf and oregano and stir through. Pop the lid on and place in the oven for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and place on a heat proof surface.
Carefully taste the stew and add salt and pepper if necessary. If the vegetables are tender, return to the oven for five minutes or so, but if they are still not soft enough, return to the oven for ten to fifteen minutes.
Serve when the vegetables are tender but still hold their shape. Serve garnished with the parsley. I like to serve this with a basket of hot rolls, but for a heartier meal you can serve it with crushed new potatoes or rice.