20 February 2008

Vegan stew with "oatballs"

When there are root vegetables to be had, this is one way to have them...

Start by slicing

3 onions,
olive oil,
1 teaspoon salt,

and sauteeing them in a large soup pot over very low heat (cast iron is best) until a rich brown. This takes a minimum of 10 minutes. Be patient. But while you're being patient, cube and fry the roots: (freely vary)

2 large turnips,
1 rutabaga,
1 potato,
2 parsnips.

Once they've fried for a while (no need to brown), cover with

6 cups water,
2 teaspoons brewer's yeast extract
bunch of chopped fresh parsley.

Bring to a boil, and simmer.

While these two pots are cooking, prepare the oatballs. Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Bring to a boil:

1 cup water,
1/3 cup minced pine nuts,
chopped fresh basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme,
1/4 cup soy sauce,
1 teaspoon brewer's yeast extract,

and then add

1 cup oats.

The oat mixture should have the texture of a thick paste. Take it off the heat as soon as the oats thicken. Cool it off briefly in the fridge, so you can handle it safely. Grease a cookie sheet and your hands. Roll the oat mixture into 1/2" to 3/4" balls and place on the cookie sheet. Place in the oven and bake 30 minutes.

While the oatballs are baking, return to the veggies. By now, the onions should be done. Add the other vegetables and their broth to the onions. Once the vegetables are fairly soft, mash them coarsely with a potato masher (over the heat, if you dare!). Let the stew simmer gently until the oatballs finish baking.

Now for the critical part, for which you must wait for the diners. Immediately before serving, remove the oatballs from the oven and add to the stew. They soften very quickly. You may wish to instruct the diners to add their own oatballs to prevent undue disintegration...

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