Winter Vegetable Stew Ideas
Chase away the chill with cozy winter vegetable stews. These slow-cooked concoctions serve up simple, homey fare that’s sure to please the pickiest palette. Stews offer the perfect hiding place for winter veggies like turnips, parsnips or different types of winter squash. In the flavor-melding environs of a stock pot, these often less-adored vegetables happily combine with more traditional mealtime favorites to create a winter vegetable stew that will have the pickiest eater coming back for more.
Many great stews get their start from braising meat—and winter vegetables happily combine with various meats. Pork is the go-to choice for different types of winter squash, but these nutrition-packed veggies also blend well with beef or chicken. Turnips, potatoes, parsnips, leeks and onions marry well with virtually any meat, from bison to lamb. Seafood and potatoes, cabbage and carrots complement each other’s flavors almost synergistically.
The easiest way to start cooking winter vegetable stew is to peruse recipes. If you have a family favorite stew, chances are it already contains a few winter vegetables. Remember, this group contains popular potatoes (white and sweet), carrots, onions and celery, along with the frequently less familiar parsnip, turnip, rutabaga and different types of winter squash. Greens also fall into the winter vegetable category, including chicory, kale, escarole and endive. Broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts also belong in the winter vegetable category.
If you’re not used to cooking with some of these vegetables, you might find it more challenging to know how to combine them in stews. The good news is that most can travel incognito in winter vegetable stew blends, disguised by potatoes (which hide rutabagas well), savory tomato broth (which helps parsnips disappear) or chunks of sweet potato (which provide a great foil for winter squash).
Certain winter vegetables pair well with particular spice groups. For instance, sweet winter vegetables like sweet potatoes and different types of winter squash strike a fantastic flavor note when paired with spicy seasoning. Blend sweet potatoes and chipotle into a hearty lentil stew, or a smoky mesquite chile pepper seasoned pork with golden butternut squash.
Parsnips, rutabagas and turnips complement paprika-braised beef to create a winter vegetable stew that works as a stand-alone dish or can be stretched by serving over rice or noodles. Try upgrading a traditional beef stew by serving it in a bowl alongside a dollop of—not mashed potatoes—but creamy mashed parsnips with caramelized garlic. If you think your family won’t go for parsnips solo, blend a few into your regular mashed potatoes and watch what happens. Or skip the parsnips and add a few steamed rutabagas to your potatoes. Don’t tell—and see who eats it up.
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For a seafood entrée, whip up a Jamaican jerk seafood stew with turnips and carrots. Or try a hearty Asian seafood stew with rutabagas, sweet potatoes and parsnips. Fish sauce coaxes nice flavors out of many winter vegetables and also pairs well with winter greens.
Oven roasted winter vegetables introduce another flavor dimension to stews that’s worth exploring. Roasting sweetens and intensifies flavors and adds crispy browned edges that make even the most disliked winter vegetables, like Brussels sprouts or rutabagas, all-stars.