Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Cozy Vegetable Stew with Polenta Croutons

Veggies, veggies, veggies. That seems to be all I eat aside from holiday treats right now. It's my way of "justifying" and balancing my zero-willpower around Christmas treats. It's okay to eat three mint fudge brownies or 6 gingerbread people if all I ate was a pound of veggies today, right? At least that is what I am telling myself, and it is working for me so far. So here is a delicious veggie-full stew I made the other day with a bunch of different veggies that appealed to my taste buds at the market. I added chickpeas for a little extra protein and texture, but you can leave them out or substitute a different bean altogether if you would like! I found this combo absolutely amazing. A warm and cozy way to spend a cold winter evening with a big bowl of this stuff on the couch (and yes it is finally cold for the moment in Phoenix, hooray!). 


Sauce Base
3 cups strained tomatoes
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
Few dashes of pepper

1 1/2 cups chickpeas, cooked, rinsed, and drained

1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium zuccini
1 small long neck yellow squash (or summer squash)
1 cup crimini mushrooms, chopped

Polenta Croutons
A few slices of precooked polenta
Sea salt
Dried basil
Dried oregano
Olive oil for cooking

Begin by dicing the onion and mincing the garlic. Heat a large soup pan to medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until the onions turn translucent. Add in the strained tomatoes (I purchased a jar of organic ones at Whole Foods by Bionaturae that was exactly 3 cups). Add the cooked, rinsed, and drained chickpeas at this time as well. Season with above seasonings, stir well, and let simmer on medium heat while you chop the vegetables. Once all the veggies are chopped add them to the pot, stir well and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 15-20 minutes (or until veggies are done). I turned my burner off at this time and let the pot sit covered while I prepared the polenta croutons.

For the polenta croutons, I used a few slices of a pre-cooked polenta tube. Cut each slice into quarters, and season with sea salt, dried basil, and oregano. Cook in a small pan on medium heat with a little olive oil until crispy (about 5 minutes on each side). Serve these on top of each bowl of stew, if desired.

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