Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Pound Stew

Colonial Americans had their pound cake, calling for a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. I thought I’d apply the same principle to this simple nourishing stew.
1 package soup bones
2-3 lb. yellow onions
1 head celery
1 lb. carrots
1 lb. lentils
1 lb. baby spinach
Begin sprouting the lentils in the morning and start the stock after work. For the stock, place the bones, an onion, a few ribs of celery, and one carrot – all roughly chopped – in the stock pot with enough filtered water to cover. Let it simmer for 3-4 hours.
The next day, strain the stock, reserving any meat from the bones. Finely dice and, optionally, saute some or all of the vegetables in butter for extra flavor. Add the vegetables, meat, and sprouted lentils to the stock and simmer until tender. You may also want to take this opportunity to empty your pantry of miscellaneous vegetables. Mix and match. Stew is really non-discriminating about the company it keeps. Season to taste with salt, pepper, artisan cheese, naturally brewed soy sauce, fish sauce, and/or whatever herbs you have on hand. Each time you reheat the stew, take out just enough for that meal and toss in a few handfuls of baby spinach (or other dark leafy greens) as it comes to a boil.
Traditions and modern science agree that while spinach is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, reheated spinach is not as nourishing as freshly cooked. Some pass it off as an old wives’ tale, since it was passed from generation to generation with no explanation, but it has since found scientific validity. Spinach contains a lot of harmless nitrates, which convert to nitrites during cooking, storage and reheating. Also harmless to adults in small amounts, nitrites can turn into to carcinogenic nitrosamines in our bodies. That’s why I keep the spinach out of the stew until it’s ready to eat. Cook it for less than five minutes to preserve more of its nutrients and cancer-fighting potency.
All told, this recipe is simple, nutritious and dirt cheap. Pair it with a loaf of homemade whole wheat sourdough and you have a week of meals for less than $20. If you don't want to eat it all week, freeze a few quarts for quick meals later. Who ever said organic food had to be expensive?

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