Our lovely local CSA has provided lately with almost all of the ingredients for this stew. It is hard to think of stew in the heat of Summer but this comes together rather quickly (all in all, about an hour) using both stovetop and oven – make sure to use an ovensafe pot to go straight from one to the other – and for Goddess sake – remember that the handles are hot – wear gloves and leave them on the pot so when you serve, you remember they will remain hot for a long while!! (I say all of this from painful experience). This stew (with the cheese and olives and maybe some fresh radish slices) makes a lovely waning light picnic out back – get your wide bowls and spoons and just go hang out there for awhile.
It is a deceiving dish, you may like many of these vegetables but not think they could be as luscious as this – it surprised us! And the bread is key – great for day old/stale/thawed frozen rustic breads. Another necessary piece is the Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton de la vera – not Hungarian sweet or Indian spicy) – if need be, you can order it online at somewhere like La Tienda – so worth having on hand, or if you are local to Portland, ME I’ve seen it at LeRoux Kitchen on Commercial Street or if in Santa Fe at the Santa Fe School of Cooking which has a wonderful shop full of goodies. Though I might have picked mine up in Madrid the last time I was there. There are different varieties of the smoked paprika, as well, (sweet, hot, bittersweet) – and that part is up to you and your individual taste.
Since you are likely ordering or searching for kooky ingredients (like pimenton) you might as well try and find the Moroccan black oil-cured olives that contrast so incredibly with this stew (I surprisingly find them at the regular grocery store – they are the ones you always avoid – thick, black, wrinkly, and face grimacing – but get a few, with the right dish, they will amaze you, too! They are Josh’s favorites.) And maybe some Majorcan sheep or Majorero goat cheese or at least Spanish Tetilla or some other sexy Spanish cheese…both olives and cheese are just for nibbles between bites of stew, very optional and not needed. But if you’re making a thing of it – which sometimes we are all wont to do!
This is slightly adapted but made many many times from a Bon Appetit recipe from almost 20 years ago. You can certainly make this completely vegan or not: use vegetable or chicken broth – or make your own, I keep a freezer bag full of veggie ends for a broth when I need it – things like garlic, onion, carrot, parsley, celery. In a 2 quart pot I boil some water, add a small potato or yam and sometimes a tomato if that is the flavor profile I wish, other herbs if I desire, or fennel/mushrooms/green beans/spinach. I do not add Summer squashes, floret veg, asparagus, peppers or bitter greens but finding a preferred fat and a preferred sweetness adds to the body. Carmelizing onions in ghee or olive oil can build body, or adding beer or wine, or in lieu of potato/yam I can use a half cup of cooked white beans. I add spices such as turmeric, chili powder, S&P to taste, sometimes a little cumin (but not too much unless you are hoping for a curry flavor), etc. My fresh herb tip, too, is to put them all together in a coffee cup and use my kitchen shears to chop away at them for a minute or two, then add to recipe. Onto the Stew!
3-5 Tbsp good quality Olive Oil
1 Large Vidalia Onion, finely chopped
1 Large Green Bell Pepper (or 1/2 green, 1/2 red for extra sweetness), chopped
3 cloves Garlic, minced
6 cups Green Cabbage (about 1/2 Large head), coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups Cauliflower florets (about 1/4-1/2 small head), chopped small
2 Large Tomatoes (or 1/2 of Lg can of whole tomatoes), chopped
2 Tbsp fresh Italian Parsley, chopped (see tip above)
1 1/2 tsp fresh Thyme, chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh Rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp Spanish Smoked Paprika (or to taste), I use a bit to dust before serving, as well
about 5 cups Broth (veg/chick or a mix
1 cup Spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
8 thick slices of Rustic Bread (not chunky but a nice dense chewy country bread), 1/2-1″ slices (roughly 4 x 3″)
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in Lg heavy ovenproof pot over Med-High Heat.
Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, saute until golden and beginning to soften (about 7 min). Stir in cabbage & cauliflower, saute about 5 min.
Add tomatoes, herbs; sprinkle with S&P. Simmer 5 min.
Add paprika and stir 30 sec.
Add broth and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 min.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
After covered simmer stir in spinach; simmer uncovered 3 minutes. Season to taste with S&P. Immerse 4 bread slices in broth in bottom of pot. Place remaining bread slices half submerged on top of stew (I try and alternate their placement from the bottom slices if I can remember where I put them).
Generously drizzle them with Olive Oil, sprinkle lightly with Sea Salt & Black Pepper, and bake uncovered 10 min. The tops of the bread should get golden and crisp. Dust with more Pimenton if desired before serving.
AGAIN – be careful taking out of the oven, all handles are hot, and will remain so throughout serving – use protection. And Enjoy!