Spring stew

Okay, so if you’re like me and don’t necessarily pay the best of attention to, say, the news or the weather over the weekend, you probably woke up this morning thinking that the Starks may be right and George R.R. Martin was actually writing a futuristic novel all the time. (Bring on the dragons!)

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I mean, seriously? I wore a hoodie to the mall yesterday for goodness sake.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of all seasons. And it’s not like I live in the Maritimes. I really have nothing to complain about. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be wishing for a new season – one that has fresh greenery, little flowers, smells like mud and rain and leaves, and provides new vibrant fresh green food. I know I have been absolutely devouring green salads lately, probably in my post-winter “I’m done with heavy comfort food, bring on the fresh veggies!”

Primavera means spring in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan and Galician, and it is also known as a light vegetable topping for pasta. I picked up a delicate bunch of thin, fresh asparagus (from Mexico though, but it will be in season here eventually – probably…) last week and have been trying to incorporate it into our meals somehow for the past few days. Last night, I cooked some raviolis and put a huge serving of primavera “sauce” on top, but as I was eating it, I thought it could be its own stew.

So here is my Primavera Stew.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sized carrots, sliced into fairly thin rounds
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 portobello mushroom caps, halved and sliced
6-8 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 head of broccoli, in florets (halve the really large ones – you want them all about the same size)
1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends snapped off and chopped into ~1″ pieces (I only used 16 stalks because I was saving some for tonight’s dinner too but it could definitely benefit from more asparagus!)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups veggie broth
~1 tbsp Italian herbs (I didn’t measure, I just shook the bottle until I thought it was good)
~1 inch diameter loose bunch of fresh chives, chopped (think how you measure spaghetti by holding it in your fist)
Thickener of your choice (I used 2 tbsp of corn starch at the end of cooking, mixed into the remaining ~1/2 cup of broth)

Put olive oil into your wok and start heating on medium heat. Add garlic and allow to warm in the oil and become fragrant. Add carrots and celery and toss about with a spatula. Add portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms and let cook until starting to wilt and release their juices.

Add about a third of the stock and let simmer. Add herbs and stir around to mix into veggies.

Add broccoli (sensitive veggie – you don’t want to cook it too long) on top and let steam for a few minutes before mixing into the rest of the veggies. Add another third of the broth, chives and chickpeas and mix. Add asparagus and let sit on top of the veggies, steaming.

Stir 2 tbsp of corn starch into remaining broth to help thicken the sauce. Make a well in your veggies as best you can and pour the corn starch mixture directly into the simmering stock on the bottom. It should take only a couple of minutes to thicken and clear. Be sure to mix all the veggies together so they are all coated. You know it is done when the asparagus are tender-crisp and the broccoli look a delicious emerald green.

Serve in bowls (or over pasta if you like). I suspect herbed scones with a bit of butter would go excellently with this stew.

Enjoy!

And just because, here is the full version of Vivaldi’s La Primavera. Because it’s pretty and full of strings and hope and memories of rainy Sundays and budding trees.

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