Typically when improvising I play with a lot of hot flavours. I love Chinese and Indian cooking and draw liberally from their spice palette. But the other day I felt like making something not spicy. Go figure.
Cuisine wise, I generalize more when I’m thinking about European cooking. For instance, I think of the herbs used in this dish as “European,” whatever that means. In fact I’m using spicing techniques that I learned from Indian cooking (i.e. frying fennel and mustard seeds with the oil at the beginning). But it’s not spicy! So it has to be western cooking, right?? Heh…
In any case, this turned out great. It really utilizes the sweet and earthy flavours in early winter vegetables–roots, hearty greens and potatoes. It’s an easy recipe with a pedestrian pace that allows for vegetable prep while cooking. Make sure you have some kick ass stock to use with this stew as it will bump it up to the next level. I had some economical vegetable stock that got involved with all these tomato peels from stunningly delicious Romas that we got in the Okanogan and canned. My love of good stock has been renewed recently after using some mediocre stuff. It makes a huge difference!
- butter for the pot to taste
- 1 onion, chopped
- dash of fennel seeds
- dash of mustard seeds
- 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 potato, diced
- 7 mushrooms, sliced
- salt to taste
- red swiss chard stems, finely sliced
- red swiss chard greens, coarsely chopped
- 1 tomato, diced
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- pinch of lovage
- pinch of terragon
- a few cups of yummy stock
- In a broad stew pot over medium heat put the butter and onion, adding the fennel and mustard seeds a minute later. Let them fry, turning occasionally, until the onions are starting to turn soft and translucent. Your kitchen will smell good.
- Add the garlic and then a few minutes later add the potato. A few minutes after that add the mushrooms and sprinkle salt over the mushrooms. The salt makes the mushrooms sweat. Let them do this, then fry them some more to pick up the flavours of the scented oil. This takes maybe 15 minutes. You can tweak the heat down a little if you like.
- About half way through the mushroom process, you can add the stems of the swiss chard. When the fry starts to get a bit dry, add the tomato.
- When the mushrooms and everything is looking and tasting gorgeous, add the swiss chard greens, the lovage, terragon, black pepper and stock. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the greens are cooked. Season to taste and enjoy!