This healthy vegetarian stew is smoky, savory and satisfying thanks to creamy white beans, fire roasted tomatoes and roasted peppers. The stew is started on the stove top and finished in the oven. This method allows for the white beans to cook slowly and evenly, thickening the stew and making it smooth and hearty. There's a bit of heat from a jalapeno chili and some sparkle from a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Don't underestimate the power of lemon juice in this recipe. It elevates this dish with fresh citrus notes.
The spices used in this stew are common to Greek/Eastern Mediterranean cooking. Just a dash or two of cinnamon is all that's needed to add welcome warmth. You may not be able to identify it in the stew. But, you'll know that it tastes comforting. I love using marjoram in tomato sauce. I hope it soon becomes the new 'it' herb. Try it, you'll see. If you don't have marjoram, you can leave it out and just use oregano.
Mediterranean Stew Recipe
Roasted peppers lend their sweet, smokiness to this dish. Use any color pepper you like. If you wish, you can add some boneless chopped chicken to the stew 10 minutes after you put it into the oven. The chicken should take about 20 minutes to cook.
Frozen baby okra is sold at Middle Eastern markets. If you cannot find it or don't like it, use frozen cut green beans instead.
Muir Glen tomato products are my go-to choice for all my recipes. They're fresh tasting and flavorful. Here's the link: http://www.muirglen.com/
I often thicken my vegetarian stews with a potato starch and water or a garbanzo bean flour and water solution. Vegetarian stews sometimes lack body. They need a little extra help to taste creamy and rich. I find both of these products in my regular supermarket or online at Bob's Red Mill.
I like to serve this stew with my Middle Eastern rice pilaf with toasted orzo for a complete protein. The link to my rice pilaf recipe is provided after The Rundown. A drizzle of good olive oil, toasted almonds or pine nuts, crumbled feta and/or pita bread are some excellent serving choices.
This dish also reheats well for workweek meals.
- 1 green pepper, sliced in half and seeded
- 1 red pepper, sliced in half and seeded
- 1 jalapeno chili, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt or kosher salt to taste
- 2 medium garlic cloves, minced. I use a microplane grater for this
- 1 14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes. I used Muir Glen Organic.
- 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce. I used Muir Glen Organic.
- 2 15.5 ounce cans of cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
- 2 dried bay leaves, remember to remove them before serving
- 1 14 ounce bag of frozen baby okra or frozen cut green beans
- dash or two of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried marjoram (optional)
- drizzle of honey or couple pinches of sugar to balance the acid in the tomatoes
- 1 lemon, a couple of squeezes of lemon juice
- Stir a teaspoon or two of potato starch into a teaspoon or two of cold water to thicken the stew. (see notes. optional, but good)
- Serving Suggestions: freshly chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts or almonds, Greek yogurt, crumbled feta, pita, rice pilaf with orzo
Place the sliced peppers, cut side down, on an oven safe baking sheet lined with tinfoil and broil them on high until their skins are charred and blackened. Remove from the oven, place peppers in a covered bowl or wrap in tin foil to steam. Set aside.
Meanwhile, place some olive oil in an oven safe pot with a lid. I use a medium size dutch oven. Add the onion and jalapeno pepper and some salt and cook on medium heat until soft. Add the 14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes. Fill the empty fire roasted tomato can two times with cold water and add that to the pot. Stir in the tomato sauce, the white beans, the okra or cut green beans, bay leaves, cinnamon, oregano, marjoram, honey and salt to taste. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the covered pot in the oven for 30 minutes. If you wish to include some chopped chicken in this dish, add it after the stew has been cooking in the oven for 10 minutes.
While the stew is cooking in the oven, remove and discard the charred skin from the roasted peppers and chop them into small pieces. Take the stew out of the oven and stir in the chopped roasted peppers and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice. Remove bay leaves.
To thicken the stew, mash some of the white beans with the back of a spoon and stir and/or add the potato starch and water solution. Serve with freshly chopped parsley, rice pilaf, pita, crumbled feta, toasted almonds, pine nuts and/or Greek yogurt. Enjoy!
Middle Eastern Rice Pilaf with Toasted Orzo