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Fiber Fever

March 05, 1997|MARY CARROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Carroll is the author of the "No Cholesterol (No Kidding!) Cookbook" (Rodale Press, 1991)

Vegetarian stews are a great way to incorporate fiber-rich grains and beans into a diet. Although they take more seasoning skill than meat stews--having generally less fat and salt--they can, with some know-how, become staples.

The initial saute is the key to savory vegetarian stews. Intense stove-top heat brings out the deeper flavors in aromatics, such as garlic and onions, that less intense cooking in liquid doesn't tap. Only a few minutes of sauteing is necessary.

I start by sauteing the aromatics in olive oil, broth or Sherry in a Dutch oven or soup pot set over medium-high heat. I then add broth, pre-soaked beans and grains, other vegetables and herbs or spices. Giving the stew plenty of time to simmer helps the flavors blend better.

Using a slow cooker is an easy way to make a stew when hands-on kitchen time is short. I can start the stew in the morning, leave it to slow cook all day and have a delicious meal ready after work.

MOUNTAIN CAMPFIRE VEGETARIAN STEW (VEGETARIAN)

3 cups dried kidney beans, rinsed and picked over

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped green cabbage

1/2 cup diced red boiling potatoes, with skin

1 (10-ounce) can peeled tomatoes, with juice

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup brown rice

4 cups vegetable broth

Salt, pepper

1/4 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Place beans in large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak 1 hour, then drain well.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onion is soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add bell pepper, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin and continue cooking, stirring frequently, 3 minutes.

Transfer mixture to slow cooker. Add beans, rice and broth. Set slow cooker on low. Cover and cook 8 hours or until stew is thick and beans and rice are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese before serving.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings:

334 calories; 585 mg sodium; 2 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 59 grams carbohydrates; 18 grams protein; 5.08 grams fiber.

SPICY MEXICAN STEW (VEGETARIAN)

1 cup dried small red beans, washed and picked over

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup seeded and diced fresh jalapen~o chiles (about 2)

1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots

1/2 cup thinly sliced celery

2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

6 cups vegetable broth

3 cups frozen corn

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips

This combination of corn, jalapen~os and tortilla chips in one bowl is unbeatable. As garnish, pass a bowl of low-fat sour cream or yogurt.

Place beans in large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak 1 hour. Drain well.

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add jalapen~os, carrots, celery and bell peppers and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add cilantro, broth, corn, cumin, coriander and beans. Bring to boil. Lower heat to medium. Cover and cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally, or until beans are very soft and stew is thick. Stir in cayenne. Top each serving with chips.

6 servings. Each serving:

355 calories; 1,078 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 10 grams fat; 60 grams carbohydrates; 13 grams protein; 5.75 grams fiber.

RUSSIAN POTATO STEW WITH SOUR CREAM (VEGETARIAN)

A Russian friend gave me this savory recipe. The sauerkraut adds punch to the stew, and the sour cream makes it surprisingly sweet.

1 tablespoon safflower oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 large unpeeled baking potatoes, cubed

1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces

5 cups vegetable broth

2 tablespoons flour

1/3 cup low-fat sour cream

3/4 cup sauerkraut with juice

1 tablespoon dried dill

Salt, pepper

Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until onion is soft but not browned. Add potatoes and green beans and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add broth and bring to boil. Lower heat to medium. Cover and cook, stirring frequently, 1 hour or until potatoes are very soft and stew is thick.

Mix flour and sour cream in small bowl to make paste. Add to hot stew by spoonfuls, stirring after each addition to incorporate.

Add sauerkraut and dill weed and cook 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

6 servings. Each serving:

123 calories; 1,094 mg sodium; 10 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 1.16 grams fiber.

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