I realize the Autumnal Equinox was a few weeks ago, dear reader, but I have it on good authority that this is a rather tasty creation. As such, I wanted to share the recipe with you, both so that you can make it and so that I have a readily accessible copy. This is essentially a loose recreation of something I put together several years ago while studying ethnobotany and living in UKC's student housing.
I will say right now that in the spirit of "MSc student on a tight budget," if you have any of the listed ingredients, but they're a bit old, use them. Case in point: the apples I used were rather old and wrinkly, but still structurally fine, and were essentially becoming part of the sauce anyway. Same goes for if you have different veggies. It's a stew. If things are kinda shriveled, they'll reabsorb moisture in the pot; if things are not as crisp as you might like, the pot will be on the hob for hours. It'll all get a bit soft anyway. I draw the line at moldy/generally off. If it's just a small section, like the very end of a carrot, chop it off and see what the inside looks like, otherwise sorry, try again. Additionally, you could add meat of some description, should you desire to do so. No, I'm not going to tell you what to do to it. I'm vegetarian and have been for well over a decade. I don't eat it, don't make it, and don't want to give you bad advice and have you end up with food poisoning.
Now that we've gotten through that, let's make some stew, shall we? I believe we shall. To the kitchen!
At the current amounts, this pot probably serves 8 or 9 people, if this is the entirety of the meal and 16 or so, as a side dish. Depending on your supplies, storage space, and desire to eat the same thing doe a few days, make adjustments as necessary. Note: At the time of the stew's creation, it was well-seasoned and tasty. In the intervening week between first and last bowl, it somehow became rather bland. This was remedied by adding a bit of salt, more black pepper, and vegan cheese and hot sauce in one instance. It was also rather good when paired with gluten-free toast.
Large cooking pot (used a cast iron one)
Long-handled spoon (for stirring as the stew cooks)
One burner that can operate variable heat settings (gas, electric, or other)
A container to put the chopped ingredients between steps
1 Vegetable Peeler
1-2 hrs for prep (depends on the amount being made [direct involvement needed])
8 hrs for cook time (stirring every 20-30 min [mostly indirect involvement needed])
1 kettle of boiled water
1/2 Lg Red Onion (yellow/gold would make it sweeter)
2 Med/Lg Parsnips
4 Med carrots (or 2 Lg ones)
2 Sm/Med Russet Potatoes
3 Golden Delicious Apples (Others work, but would alter the flavor; 3 makes the base rather appley. If that’s not something you’re into, use 1 or 2 instead. Pears could also be substituted.)
1 Med Butternut Squash
1 Lg Zucchini
4 Lg White Mushrooms
1 15oz tin stewed Tomatoes
1 15oz tin Pumpkin puree
Enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of your stew pot. (I used sunflower oil.)
Spices (Ingredient Sub-Section):
1 Tsp Fresh-ground Black Pepper
1Tsp Granulated Garlic
1Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Dried Parsley
1 Tsp Dried Basil
1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
*You might want to measure out the spices, before hand, so you can just add everything when needed. Or you could do the measuring directly into the pot when the time comes. It’s entirely up to you.
Roughly chop the 1/2 Onion. Mine ended up being about 3/4 of an inch, but it doesn't really matter . They're going in first and being sauteed. Basically, the size the onion bits end up is up to your discretion.
Place the stew pot on the burner, setting it to a medium heat. On a gas burner this would be directly mid-way between High and Low.
As it heats, pour in a light layer of oil, just enough to coat the bottom of your pan.
When the oil has heated a bit, add the onions you just chopped.
While waiting for the onions to cook, it is time to chop your root vegetables and squash. This is the parsnips , carrots , butternut squash , and potatoes .
When working with butternut squash, you want to peel the tough skin off before it goes in the pot. Otherwise you have to deal with it later and no one wants that. Think bits of leather floating in your stew. Not good. I would say to put the butternut and potatoes in before the parsnips and carrots, as they take longer to cook.
Butternut instructions: After you've cut open the squash, scoop the seeds and stringy fibers out. You can roast the seeds, of you'd like and generally treat them like pumpkin seeds. Then, peel the squash. Again, because my peeler was a bit dull, I quartered my squash, lengthwise (cut in half, then half again). That lets the peeler have an edge to latch onto. After you've done this, it's time to cut the squash into pieces. Mine were a bit large, but I cut the lengthwise quarters into 1/2"-1" sections. It's up to you on sizing, but most pieces ended up being about two bites.
Wash the potatoes. I do this by scrubbing them under running water. If you have a vegetable scrubber brush, you can use that. I just use my hands, usually.
Chop your potatoes into roughly the same size as the squash. They'll be going in at the same time and will need to cook at the same speed. I cut each in half, so they lay flat and chopped them into smaller pieces from there.
Add the squash and potatoes to the pot to brown, stirring them into the onions. Cover pot with lid.
Peel and chop the carrots and parsnips. They're going in next, as they are the second hardest element being added. Note: peel away from you, to avoid nicked fingers. I usually cut the wider section lengthwise and the width on the narrower sections. That way, all the pieces end up roughly the same size.
Add carrots and parsnips to the pot, stirring them into what is already cooking. Add some water (2-3 inches in the bottom of the pot works well), from the kettle. Replace lid.
Wash your zucchini and mushrooms. I run them under water and rub off any residual dirt or dust. Chefs often say not to wash mushrooms, but they usually have some kind of soil residue when I get them, so I usually run them under the water anyway and flush out the gills. You can act on your own discretion.
Chop off the very ends of the zucchini (next to the stem and at the flower end (the end without a stem). In order to have a fresh cut, I like to slice off the very edge of the mushroom’s stalk before chopping the rest. Note: I find putting mushrooms cap-down on the chopping board makes the process easier.
Cut them to about the same size as the carrot and parsnip pieces. Be aware that zucchini breaks down when stewed and mushrooms release/absorb water.
Add zucchini and mushrooms to the pot, stirring occasionally. Add more water (about half-way up the pot, should do), from the kettle. Replace lid.
Wash your apples, running them under the water. I suggest cutting your apples into 6 sections (in half length-wise, half again, and half again). This makes it easier to remove the core before you chop the sections. Chop your apples smaller than the other ingredients so far added. They are going to cook down and become part of the sauce.
Add the apple pieces to the stew pot. Stir in with everything else.
Open the tins of stewed tomatoes and pumpkin puree.
Add tomatoes and pumpkin slowly, stirring in if you can. You might need to rinse one or both tins with water from the kettle to get everything out.
Add all the spices previously listed (pepper, parsley, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and basil), stirring everything together. Add water from the kettle (if there’s any left, otherwise warm is ok), ideally covering the pot’s contents. Be aware that the stewing process will cause the contents to bubble while it is on medium heat.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. You’ll need to stir the pot every half hour for the duration of cook time.
I let it boil at medium heat for about 2 hours, lowering it to the midway mark between low and medium, as a lot of steam kept erupting from the pot. You don’t want that. Try lowering the heat earlier if that happens. I started the whole process at about 8:30 pm, so turned off the heat and re-started it the next day at a low simmer for another 6 hrs. You could just as easily let it simmer for a solid 8 hrs, stirring and checking the pot every 30 min or so.
Serve and enjoy. Goes well with sourdough bread or corn chips.
Till next time. Be well.