Stew is one of those deeply comforting things- like tea- that seem to make the whole world better. Stew is the stuff of tradition, and meals remembered from childhood. It’s pretty much a national dish.
But stew doesn’t have to take a long time to make, and it doesn’t need meat to be flavoursome. Whether you’re veggie or not, give this economical formula a go. There’s no exotic spices- unless you want to add them- and no exotic ingredients, just varied vegetables with fresh herbs to add some sparkle.
- Two vegetables, one a root vegetable and one that's different, for example, turnip and leek, sweet potato and fennel, carrot and cabbage.
- A fresh herb, for example, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, sage.
- A handful of lentils- any sort will do, but split red lentils cook quicker.
- Vegetable stock or water- stock powder or cubes are fine.
- Seasoning- you could use a little salt and pepper, or some spices, such as cumin, ginger, or paprika- experiment and see what works for you!
- Something to liven up the gravy, such as 1tbsp mushroom ketchup, 1tsp marmite or a dash of soy sauce.
- If you are particulary hungry or want the meal to go a long way add a potato.
- Boil the kettle and, if you're using it, make up the stock. Rinse, peel and chop the root vegetable into pieces of about 1-2 cm squared, and rinse and chop or shred the other vegetable as appropriate. Rinse and finely chop the herb.
- Place the vegetables, lentils and seasoning in a pan, and just cover with stock or water. Boil pan gently until the vegetables are just soft enough to push a fork into, and stir in the chopped herb. Cook for a few more minutes, and serve with plenty of bread.
- It's that simple! The last one I made was turnip, carrot, tarragon and leek- it turned out more like soup than stew, but it still made a pan-lickingly-good meal. Don't forget to taste the sauce before serving, in case the seasoning needs adjusting.