Monday, February 1, 2010

Tuscan Vegetable Stew

I made this for lunch today, I felt a little guilty for consuming—for breakfast--the Cinnabon that my neighbor brought over so I needed to balance it out with a low calorie, filling, nutrient dense lunch.

Tuscan Vegetable Stew
¼ cup diced onion
1 sliced carrot
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cook the above ingredients on medium high heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are lightly browned.
Then add:
2 cloves garlic minced
3 small Japanese type eggplants chopped or 1 regular sized eggplant
1 potato skin on, chopped in about ½ inch pieces

brown the above ingredients for a few minutes and add:
3 cups of water
1 Knoor’s vegetable bullion cube (the large 2 cup version)
1 Jar of Ragu Traditional spaghetti sauce (approx. 24 oz. ?)

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, then add:

1 15 oz. can of white beans (don’t drain)
1 diced green onion
1 handful of fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Spoon into individual bowls over torn fresh spinach and sprinkle with fresh shredded parmesan cheese.

Okay, so I can’t think of a better way to eat vegetables than; 1) in eggs, 2) breaded, fried or in pastry, and 3) in a soup or stew. The latter being the healthiest way as long as it’s in a low calorie broth.

So I was trying to figure out what to call it. I thought Tuscan Vegetable Stew sounded good. It was too thick to call it a soup but the perfect consistency to call it a stew. I am 1/4 Italian, but embarrassingly enough, I didn’t really know what Tuscan flavors were exactly so I looked it up. I was a little surprised that everything it said, I did. I sautéed the onion, garlic and carrots in the extra virgin olive oil and used that to infuse the broth and tomato sauce base. The only major thing I did different is that I added the fresh parsley at the very end because I wanted the color to stay bright green. This is what it said on the website (below that is my recipe, which turned out VERY delicious!):

Tuscan Flavor Bases from
Truly great authentic Tuscan cooking cannot be accomplished without an understanding of the basic ingredients and the distinctly Italian approach to putting them together. Tuscan food combines elements of three methods of creating flavor bases and can elevate even the most humble foods to greatness.

Three Methods of Creating Tuscan Flavor Bases

1. Odori

A blend of vegetables and herbs that are sautéed in extra-virgin olive oil. The most common combinations are celery, carrots, garlic, onion, parsley and other herbs, such as rosemary, bay or thyme. This serves as a flavor base for ninety percent of Tuscan recipes.

2. Sofritto

The result of sautéing the vegetables and herbs that comprise the Odori.

3. Insaporire

An infusion of flavor. The Tuscan cook takes the Sofritto and uses it as an infusion of flavor into many recipes that inspire them.

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