The "anything goes" savory tomato and bean stew [Vegan.. if you want]

stew photo
© Jaymi Heimbuch

Jaymi's Notes:
I've been doing The Cooking Project for about two months now, and with nearly 50 different recipes tried and tested during that time, this non-recipe couldn't have been a better celebration of what I've learned about cooking so far. This stew is all about cooking intuitively, figuring out what flavors you like and what will mix well together, and knowing how to use what you already have in the cupboards.

This also turned into one of our favorite meals, and it was all based on using whatever I could scrounge up from the cupboard and refrigerator. My recipe only barely looks like Kelly's recipe below -- I only had a few of the ingredients her recipe calls for, and had quite a few things that needed to be used up. And if you do this right, your recipe will only barely resemble either of ours, as you'll have different items stashed away that you'll use creatively in your stew.

In my stew I used:
a fresh tomato
sundried tomato
jarred roasted red peppers
a can of kidney beans

I followed a similar order of adding ingredients and let everything simmer for about 20 minutes. And it was delicious! It is hard to go wrong with a stew, so test out your ability to cook intuitively, skipping the measuring cups and rigid ingredients lists. What do you come up with?

More on The Cooking Project.

Kelly's Recipe:

I'm so glad I taught my kids to cook. Now that they are adults, not only can they cook for themselves, but they can cook for me. This past Mother's Day my daughter made me fabulous french toast topped with homemade peach jam for brunch and my son made a delicious tomato bean stew with spinach and red peppers for dinner.He didn't follow a recipe, he just added ingredients and tasted as he went along, sometimes changing the proportions as he wished. I hung around the kitchen watching what he was making as we chatted and the following recipe is more or less what he made. The point is, to become an intuitive cook you have to do some experimenting along the way, and you have to learn to trust your own taste. Both Emma and Hugh took advantage of my pantry and used my homemade jam, canned tomatoes and marinated red peppers.

These measurements are approximate, so feel to make any changes you like. Hugh used spinach from the farmers' market, but Swiss chard or kale would also be delicious. We had this served over couscous. I think it would be great as a pasta sauce too.

Tomato Bean Stew with Spinach and Marinated Red Peppers

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 can tomatoes, roughly chopped
3/4 cup marinated red peppers, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pitted olives
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in large pot until it shimmers. Add onion and cook until translucent about 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until garlic is golden, about 5 minutes.

2. Add tomatoes and red peppers and pitted olives. Stir and cover stew and cook for 15 or 20 minutes to allow flavours to meld.

3. Add beans and spinach and cook until beans are warmed through and spinach is cooked, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

The "anything goes" savory tomato and bean stew [Vegan.. if you want]
Have no idea what to make for dinner? Reeeally don't want to go to the store? You probably have everything you need for this delicious and highly customizable stew.

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