Oh haaay Seattle. You’re looking a little drab these days. After a week in sunny SoCal, returning to the Emerald City is about as exciting as finding a smooshed banana at the bottom of your bag. Well, maybe not that bad, but somewhat painful. I've heard people complain that winter holidays spent sans rain/slush/snow just don’t feel right, but I beg to differ; poolside mimosas on 80-degree Thanksgiving morning feel just about perfect to me.
Upon my return home, I needed something warm and comforting to help soften the post-vacation blow. Something satisfying, but with enough vegetation to help flush the In-N-Out Burger indulgence(s) completely out of my system. So, I made a stew with smoky charred vegetables in a rich tomatoey broth, smooth white beans and tender pieces of turkey (dark meat please) and some sunny citrus and fresh herbs to help remind me that the sun will come back again someday. Let’s just hope it’s before July.
· Satisfying stew is a great way to pack in more vegetables at dinner or lunch. Keeping with the seasons, fall root vegetables like beets and rutabagas are especially rich in vitamin C, which helps immune cells fight off infections, as well as potassium, fiber and antioxidants. Homegrown flu shot anyone?
· White beans provide fiber for a meal that keeps you fuller longer. They also contain folate, which helps produce and maintain new cells. Keeping most of the beans whole adds texture and mashing some of the beans helps give the stew some body without using any refined starches or added fat.
Charred Vegetable and White Bean Stew with Turkey
1 red bell pepper1 small beet
1 small rutabaga
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 sprig fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock (homemade is best, low-sodium canned is fine)
1 (15-ounce) can beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, Navy or whatever you prefer)
2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded into large chunks
¼ cup Italian parsley (cilantro, basil or green onions would also work), chopped
Lemon wedges, for serving
Grill the vegetables. Preheat a grill to medium heat. Meanwhile slice the sides off the bell pepper, leaving behind the stem, seeds and membranes (you should have 4-5 pieces, depending on the shape of the pepper). Peel and slice the beet and rutabaga into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then grill on both sides until slightly charred and tender. Alternatively, place the vegetables on a sheet pan and broil until charred. Remove the vegetables to the same bowl and set aside. Once cool enough to handle, stack the slices and cut into ¼” strips.
Make the stew. Heat the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the tomato paste, oregano, diced tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Mash the beans. Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans in a colander. In a small bowl, mash 1/3 of the beans with a fork until almost smooth. Add the mashed and whole beans to the soup, along with the turkey meat and charred vegetables. Simmer for 10 more minutes, then taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve the stew. Ladle the hot stew into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Portion any remaining soup into containers and refrigerate for up to four days or freeze for up to four months.