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Scavenger Stew

March 2, 2011

There was a chilly snap earlier this week and the thought of a second night of cold corned beef and salad lost its appeal. Fortunately I’d bought a chunk of butternut squash from the market at the weekend and I also had the green ends of some lovely leeks I’d used for a side dish a couple of days earlier so I decided to make my Scavenger Stew.

This recipe is a good one for using up stray vegetables in the fridge – the odd celery stalk, the last few mushrooms, the half-head of fennel, some capsicum, that lonely ear of corn or stray zucchini.. It’s also advisable to have a more substantial component like butternut squash, potato, pumpkin or sweet potato.

You can use fresh tomatoes if you wish but canned chopped tomatoes are easy. I also like to add a can of beans. This time it was cannellini but I often use kidney beans, mixed beans, chickpeas or whatever I have on hand.

You can also change the seasonings to suit your mood or to complement other parts of the meal. These days there are many different pre-mixed herb and spice blends – Moroccan, Indian, North African, Tuscan, Australian. You often get them in sample packs or in gift baskets and here’s your chance to experiment. Use the recipe as a springboard for your own creativity.

This recipe served two. Just multiply the basics or add extra vegetable varieties. You can serve it with pasta, over rice, with grilled chicken or fish. In our case I sliced our corned beef and reheated it in the microwave.

Scavenger Stew

2 tablespoons olive oil
the green ends of two leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
1 large red chilli, deseeded and chopped
400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of spice blend
salt and pepper to taste
1 can cannellini beans

Heat a deep pan and pour in the olive oil. Add the leeks, garlic, chilli and squash, turn the heat to medium and sauté for about 10 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and seasoning and simmer for a couple of minutes, adding some water if necessary.

Cover and turn the heat to low and cook for another 30 minutes, checking occasionally to see if more water is required. You want the sauce to thicken but not burn. Adjust the seasoning. The dish can be set aside at this stage for later reheating, if required.

Add the drained, washed beans and reheat. Tip into a serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh herbs if you wish.

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