Monday, October 11, 2010

Beef Vegetable Stew with Black Pepper and Cheese Croutons


When the weather is getting cool, there's nothing quite like a big bowl of something warm and good, and this beef vegetable stew really hit the spot.  But then when you add in the black pepper and cheese croutons, things really start to get good.  Really, super comforting.

My husband isn't a very big fan of light fare like soups and salads when dinner time rolls around.  I'm trying to slowly change his mind and offer lighter alternatives, but he loved this traditional stew with the twist of the black pepper and cheese croutons.  When you think about it, Americans are one of the few cultures that I know of that eat their biggest meal of the day in the evening.  The Spanish are infamous for their leisurely lunches known as la comida,the largest meal of their day, in the late afternoon and then enjoy a siesta, their afternoon nap which can last up to two hours (wouldn't that be nice!).  With all of that said, I am trying to keep as many meals as light as possible.  You can make this with any combination of your favorite vegetables, or leave out the meat altogether. This stew and cheesy crouton was just the right combination: light, but filling and oh so good!

Beef Vegetable Stew
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost $6.57    Servings: 6+

1/2 of a zucchini, chopped and cubed
3/4 c. corn kernels
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup carrots, cubed, shredded or grated
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 pound stew meat or beef, in 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1- 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot until it glistens and ripples.
caramelized onions
2. Brown the meat, adding it to the pan so that there is space between each piece.  If necessary, cook the meat in batches but be sure not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from pan.

3. Add the onion and fresh garlic if you're using it, and soften the onions then add the meat back to the pot.
4.Add the crushed and diced tomatoes, the tomato paste, garlic and onion powder and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture heat through, then add the potatoes.
5. Wait 5 minutes, and add the zucchini, corn and carrots.
6.Leave the soup as is, or mix two tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of butter or butter substitute in a small dish until combined and add it to the soup to thicken the texture.  Cover and on medium-low heat for 25 minutes. 

Black Pepper and Cheese Croutons

1/2 loaf of thin sliced Italian bread
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
croutons with olive oil1/4 cup Mozzarella or Italian blend cheese
cracked black pepper
olive oil for drizzling

1.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
2.Spread the bread out on a sheet pan, and drizzle with olive oil.
3.Bake the bread for 8-10 minutes, or until the bread is browned and crisp on top.
4.Add the mozzarella or Italian cheese, then the Parmesan cheese, and top with a sprinkle of black pepper. 
5.Return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and brown.  Eat. Enjoy.


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