I’ve written before about stufato di verdure, a vegetable stew of northern Italian origin where the vegetables are stewed in their own juices, along with flavorings that range from anchovy, garlic and olives, to roasted peppers, herbs and wine. Click here for a post from last June that presents a summer version of stufato. The neat thing is that you can customize this stew depending on whatever you might have on hand.
The version that’s pictured below is vegetarian (if you omit the cheese, it becomes vegan), and contains a generous helping of winter vegetables. As usual, if you choose to make this recipe, feel free to tweak it based on your preference, likes or dislikes.
I like my stufato somewhat on the liquid side, so I can sop up the sauce or gravy with bread. Or, sometimes, I’ll add chunks of stale bread to the pot and remake the stew as ribollita (literally, “reboiled” in Italian).
Stufato di Verdure
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks (with leaves), trimmed and finely chopped
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 large turnips, peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed and left whole
1 head escarole, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tightly packed tablespoon Italian parsley, julienned + more for garnish
1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes OR a similar-sized can peeled whole plum tomatoes, packed in juice
sea salt, to taste
freshly milled black pepper, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish (optional)
Gently warm about 1/4 cup olive oil in a wide, deep Dutch oven over medium-high heat, along with the garlic. When the garlic begins to turn a pale gold, after about 1 minute, add the onion, celery, carrots, turnips, parsnips and fennel. Lower the heat to medium and sauté the vegetables until they become quite soft, stirring frequently. This will take some time, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the green beans, celery leaves, escarole, Italian parsley, thyme, tomatoes and tomato juice. If using whole peeled tomatoes, be sure to break them up with a wooden spoon, or crush them with a fork. (You might have to prep the tomatoes in advance beforehand. Take it from someone who once managed to splatter tomatoes all over his kitchen walls and floor, from underestimating the amount of “mess” that would result. You definitely do not want to repeat my mistake. ;)) Taste for salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about an hour or until the vegetables are extremely tender.
If the stew seems too liquid, uncover and raise the heat to medium-high during the last few minutes of cooking to reduce and concentrate flavors. Alternately, if you find that the stufato is in danger of scorching, add 1/4 cup water to the pot.
When the stufato is done, taste once more for salt and pepper. Ladle stew into bowls, then drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, if using, and any remaining Italian parsley. Serve at once.
Makes 5-6 servings.
Time: About 90 minutes, including prep