Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aunt Lauren's Vegetarian Crock Pot Mushroom & Kale Stew with Quinoa

Way back in Crocktober, my lovely aunt Lauren (also the creator of this yummy fruit and nut quinoa idea) sent me her recipe for a crock pot stew involving fresh sliced mushrooms, a variety of dried mushrooms, kale, parsnips and quinoa for serving. She even mailed me a big box of dried mushrooms to make it with - is that sweet, or what? And while Crocktober is over, my love for the crock pot is not, so I'm going to share her recipe with you anyway.
Because I'm using a teeny 2 qt machine and we are pretty sure that hers is a 5-quarter, I cut her recipe in half. 2 quarts is kind of absurdly small, I realize, so it might make more sense for you to use the original, so I'll give you her original measurements:

5 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
4 large leaves kale, cut lengthwise and chopped
2 cups veggie stock (or chicken)
2 tbsp cornstarch blended with hot water, as needed (about 2/3 cup)
1 1/2 large onions, chopped, or a bag of peeled "pear onions" from Trader Joe's
1 8 oz box sliced fresh mushrooms 
1 cup of mixed dried mushrooms 
1 can reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1 smashed garlic clove
1 1/2 large onions, chopped, or a bag of peeled "pear onions" from Trader Joe's

Cooked quinoa, for serving
Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped, for serving

1. Break your dried mushrooms up into smaller pieces (so you don't need to chop them later), and soak in 2 cups hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain, pouring carefully so as to remove grit while leaving mushroom liquor.
2. Combine all ingredients except kale, cornstarch and water in the crock pot. Cook on "low" for 8-10 hours. 
3. One and one half hours before serving, add kale. A half an hour later, stir in cornstarch and water mixture. Leave the lid cracked and continue to cook for about another hour to hour and a half to thicken.

Lauren is a very smart woman. The changes I made were more logistical than creative - So, just so you know, if you come home around 8:30 hungry and tired from work, you can turn the crock to "high" to hasten broth-thickening while you cook your kale with the quinoa on the stovetop instead of leaving that extra time for everything to cook together in the crock. It is probably better Lauren's way, but life happens. The only "creative" change I made to her recipe is adding a little fresh parsley for garnish, which I do recommend.

If you know where to find dairy-free cream of mushroom soup, you can easily make this vegan. And, if you're not the hugest fan of parsnips (like I know Brady isn't), you can use cubed potato instead. And I have to say, now that I know how easy and convenient is is to cook with dried mushrooms, and the rich flavor you get from the variety, I think I'll be working my way through this box in short order.

Quote of the Day: I travel the world, and I'm happy to say that America is still the great melting pot - maybe a chunky stew rather than a melting pot at this point, but you know what I mean. ~ Philip Glass

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