I never thought I would have a vegetable garden in my backyard this year. It seemed like this silly thing that I would finally, finally get to when the deck and kitchen were both finished, the shed was built and the porch was stained. My dad grows enough vegetables to feed 75 or more people, so I figured I could just glom onto that and be satisfied. And hilariously (!!), right at this second I have a thriving vegetable garden, no shed or deck to really speak of, a kitchen that still isn’t totally finished, and we have the most unintentionally distressed-looking porch floor (oh, and my dad still brings me stuff from his garden anyway). Priorities are funny.
So now, even when there’s “nothing to eat” we have a hundred square feet of total edibles just getting bigger and riper by the day. It’s true that at any given moment there’s some urgent thing that needs to be fixed, tidied, cleaned, shopped for, photographed, edited etc., but we almost always make time to eat well–even if the loosest translation of that means tossing a couple kale leaves into a daily smoothie because vitamins! It is a privilege to grow and find time to cook this sustenance.
I think Erin from Yummy Supper understands these ideas of nourishment all too well. Just a quick flip through her beautiful new cookbook will give you inspiration for a week’s worth of meals that glow with abundance, yes, but also with the more immediate appeal of accessibility. It’s a gluten free book, but not in a way that you would notice right away. I tend to gravitate towards the variety and colours of natural foods, and Erin’s book really celebrates this. Instead of focusing on what’s off limits, there’s page after page of gorgeous naturally gluten free foods combined with a knack for seasonal consideration. There’s pears poached in Lillet, popped amaranth with cumin and coriander, a crispy kale salad with curried chickpeas, millet crepes, parsnip chips, and black rice pudding with coconut–among so many other thoughtful dishes. Whatever your dietary inclinations, you’ll find something in this book that speaks to you.
And this stew! It’s a good one–nice and spicy with tons of vegetable goodness. I was scanning through the ingredients thinking that I had most of what was called for (fresh beans, corn, tomatoes, shallots, garlic, chilies), knowing that I would substitute a couple things based on what I had in the garden. Swiss chard instead of napa cabbage and bok choy, eggplant for the mushrooms, maybe some extra carrots and some sliced up chard stems too. I was a only a little bit worried that I would change the intended flavours slightly. But Erin condones the switch ups! It’s an all season-approachable dish that mostly relies on the flavour base of fragrant coconut oil, chilies, onions, garlic and tamari. The sharp edge of heat and little bit of bite from the vegetables makes this stew glow with vitality. It’s hard to stop eating it–just feel good food through and through. Some coconut oil-browned cashews and shallots get sprinkled on top and that textural/flavour contrast is so bang on. It’s all just right for the slowly cooling nights ’round here.
And a little add-on bonus! Lindsey, Claire, and I are working with the fine folks at Pure Green Magazine for a hashtag challenge called #PGMinseason. They have all the details on their site here, but on the PGM blog we’re sharing some recipes and our more personal ideological/health-related aspects of choosing local food. You guys know I’m all-in for anything that celebrates the seasonal eats, so it’s exciting to be a part of something that aims to bring even more inspiration and conversation around that movement. Earlier this week they posted my recipe for harissa grilled eggplant with burst tomatoes, quinoa and herb salad, which you can check out here!
VEGAN GARDEN STEW RECIPE
Print the recipe here!
from Erin Scott’s Yummy Supper
NOTES: Erin’s recipe calls for chicken as well. I just went with the goodness of the veggies, but you could easily add diced tofu or chickpeas if you’d like a little extra protein in this stew. She notes a little tip in the book that I completely agree with: have all of your ingredients chopped and ready to go once you have the stove turned on. The whole thing goes pretty quick. Also, serve this with some cooked rice if you like.
1/4 cup + 2 tsp coconut oil
1-2 cayenne chilies (or something similar), seeded + minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tsp tamari soy sauce
4 cups water
3 medium carrots, peeled + thinly sliced
2 medium (or 4 small!) tomatoes, diced
1 small eggplant, chopped
kernels from 2 cobs of corn (1 1/3 cups)
1 1/3 cups sliced green beans
1 cup raw cashews
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cups chopped swiss chard (including stems)
salt + pepper
Heat a 1/4 cup of the coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the chili, onion and garlic. Cook until very fragrant and onion has softened slightly, about 2 minutes.
Add the tamari and water to the pot. Bring to a boil and then add the carrots. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and eggplant and cook for a minute. Add the corn and green beans and cook for another couple minutes. At this point you can turn the heat off until you’re ready to serve it because you’ll just need to bring the pot to a boil for the greens.
In a small sauté pan, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil over medium low heat. Add the raw cashews to the pan and toast them in the oil until they brown a bit on all sides, about 4-5 minutes. Empty the cashews onto a small plate and give them a little sprinkle of salt if you like.
Return the small sauté pan to the heat and add the remaining teaspoon of coconut oil. Add the thinly sliced shallots to the pan and stir them around here and there until they turn deep brown and a bit crisp in some areas, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Bring the pot of stew to a boil again and add the chopped swiss chard. Cook until the greens wilt a little bot, about 1 minute. Serve the stew hot with the toasty cashews and shallots on top.