Canada’s new Food Guide is generating lots of conversation, with many folks who are much better informed than me offering various points of view. I have no expertise, so I’m only going to focus on one aspect – the suggestion to eat more vegetables and whole grains, which has always made sense to me. The guide is for me – if nothing else – a reminder that eating less meat and more plants is better for my health, and that of the planet. Okay, there’s the preachy part of the post. Here’s the delish element – the super quick way I found to make a wonderful meatless winter stew, with thanks to Mark Bittman for the proportions and the method.
Roughly chop and put in a deep, wide saucepan about six cups of veg, and include in that about two cups mushrooms (I used PC Naturally Imperfect mushrooms, but you can use a mix of mushrooms, and even add some dried, if you like. If you do use dried, may I suggest that “European” varieties, such as chanterelles, cepes, and porcini fit the flavour profile better than, say, Shiitake.) Including a couple of potatoes adds to its heartiness, but I’ve also used celery root and parsnip if I did not have potatoes. If you like, add a handful of whole peeled garlic cloves. (I like:) Add 1/3 cup pearl barley, a teaspoon of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried, and three cups of stock (veg,beef, chicken, or mushroom). I had a cup of red wine I wanted to use up, so I subbed that for part of the stock. Boil, cover, turn to simmer and cook 30-40 minutes. I served this recently with cornbread to which I’d added sage and grated cheddar, but crusty bread or fluffy biscuits would also work. Bittman garnishes with fresh parsley, which I did not have.
Frankly, I was worried that this dish’s flavour would be too mild for the family. Errr, like no! It was a smash hit all round – although my son James objected to the whole garlic cloves. Not me: I thought they tasted sightly sweet, mild, and heavenly.