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Winter Vegetable Stew

This classic cool-weather dish sparkles with color and appealing flavors. Adding the lemon zest to the warm vegetables releases its citrusy, fresh aroma, providing a fresh dimension for a traditionally hearty dish. Accompany with a green salad and crusty country bread.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup medium-dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 butternut squash, about 2 1/2 lb.
  • 3 parsnips
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed and leaves chopped

Directions:

In a large, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and celery and sauté until softened and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the sherry, stock and vinegar and stir to dislodge any browned bits from the pan bottom. Transfer the contents of the pan to a slow cooker.

Peel and seed the butternut squash and cut into chunks. Peel the parsnips and carrots and cut into chunks. Add the squash, parsnips, carrots and tarragon to the slow cooker, season with salt and pepper, and stir to blend evenly. Cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions for 5 hours. The vegetables should be tender.

Stir the lemon juice, to taste, into the stew, then transfer the stew to a warmed serving bowl or shallow individual bowls. Drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, top with the watercress and a sprinkle of lemon zest, and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma The New Slow Cooker, by Brigit Binns (Weldon Owen, 2010).