Vegetable Stew

I always liked stew.  Even as a child stew was a favourite meal.  I guess it was partly because I loved gravy, vegetables and meat.  I've since become vegetarian but still crave the comfort of a bowl of beef stew.  And so I make stew.  Sometimes I sauté mushrooms to take the place of the meat in stew but more recently I've found this very nice and tasty fake beef, a Blue Menu product by President's Choice--Loblaws. 
(Since this post was written the Blue Menu product seems to be discontinued.  I now use Gardein beefless tips or chunks of homemade gluten. Use your favourite product.)

Don has requested stew for dinner so I thought you'd like to see how I make stew.  I'm serving the stew with biscuits.  You can get the recipe here

Making stew is more a process than a recipe and the type and amounts of vegetables are interchangeable.   I tend more towards root vegetables as I like the traditional beef stew style. So here goes. . .

Vegetable Stew with Fake Beef or Mushrooms
Choose from these vegetables or whatever kind you like. Peel and cut in large dice:
  • Onion (You can cut these smaller.)
  • Mushrooms, if using
  • Turnip (That's Rutabaga.  We call it turnip.)
  • Carrots or baby carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Green beans or peas
  • Sweet potato
  • Parsnip
Use an amount that you think will be enough for a meal.  I use about 5 cups of  vegetables.

Place a tablespoon butter or oil in large pot and add 1 large chopped onion or whatever amount you think you'd like.  Onion is essential to a good stew, in my opinion.  Cook onion slowly over a low heat until it starts to caramelize. Add mushrooms at this point.  Don't let this burn but keep stirring occasionally and add a little water to deglaze the pot. 

Add about 4 cups water to pot and bring to a boil. I add a vegetable bouillon cube to the water at this point or you may salt the water instead.  Add diced vegetables to pot in this order:

1. Turnip/Rutabaga because it takes longest to cook.  Boil about 15 minutes.  Then add. . .
2. Carrots.  Boil another 5 minutes.  Then add. . .
3. Potatoes and cabbage.  Boil another 5 minutes.  Then add. . .
4. Any softer vegetables like sweet potato or parsnip.  You may also add any frozen vegetables such as green beans but leave the green peas until last.

You may want to add more water any time the liquid seems low.  I like to have the liquid in the pot about half way up the side if I have a large pot of stew. 

When vegetables are just about cooked add 1 package of Meatless Beef Strips, if using.  I like to rinse them off and cut the strips in chunks.  If you have used mushrooms instead of the meatless beef just continue on to making the gravy. 

Bring the stew to a slow boil.  Make the gravy by mixing 2 or 3 tablespoons flour with ½ cup cold water.  I usually shake this up in a jar until there are no lumps of flour left in the mix.  Slowly add the flour mixture to the hot stew stirring gently to mix through.  Let the gravy slowly boil until thickened.  (Now, add the green peas if you are using them.)Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

If you like a dark gravy add a few drops of gravy browning to the pot.  

Lot's of people like brown gravy.  This is the remedy for pale gravy.

 Adding the gravy browning to the light gravy.  

See how nice and brown it becomes with just a few drops.
I'm serving this stew with plain biscuits.  They just compliment this dish so well.  Serve them hot out of the oven for the best taste.  Get the recipe for the biscuits here.


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