Friends in the Kitchen
This recipe is adapted from one I found a couple of years ago on my friend Alanna's blog, A Veggie Venture. Reading it just before Thanksgiving it made me smile. Having shared a number of holidays with Alanna I knew I could trust her take on the recipe: that her Quick Green Chile Stew would be the perfect no-fuss pre-holiday warm-up.
The smile came from her advice to add something creamy to the bowl. Anytime you have more than one cook in the kitchen you are bound to have a few points of friendly disagreement and this was one I remembered from way back when: I would always make a face when Alanna added cottage cheese to a soup. My aversion to things white and creamy has been documented. While I understood her suggestion in theory, in my mind cottage cheese is meant to be eaten on it's own with a few grinds of black pepper and a cracker. Enough said.
But the creamy cottage cheese was just the garnish for this recipe. The basic recipe sounded wonderful to me, especially with the addition of salsa verde. Right away I looked around the kitchen for the ingredients to make a pre-Thanksgiving pot of my own.
I didn't have an exact match for every ingredient. Good thing it's one of those recipes that seems open to interpretation. I skipped the pumpkin as recommended and the poblano chiles since I didn't have any on hand. Instead I roasted some squash to add to the stew in more substantial form than the skipped pumpkin puree. That left me in need of more liquid so I added broth.
Then, while digging around in the cabinet, I found a can of hominy. That hominy reminded me of grits, a food that I had always enjoyed eating but would cause Alanna to shake her head. Again I smiled. I added the hominy to the stew along with the beans.
Isn't that the way we all cook? Every time I read comments following a recipe on, say, Epicurious, I am struck by the way it seems that almost everyone who tries the recipe actually tries a different recipe, adapted to their own habits and preferences as well as what they have available. And really, that's okay, isn't it? As long as you don't blame the author for the way your adaptation turns out.
In this case, I found the adaptation every bit as appealing as Alanna did the original. Mine turned out a little too spicy for some of my guests but I liked it that way. I also enjoyed remembering the times Alanna and I once spent together in the kitchen, learning from each other's kitchen traditions and preferences, before we were separated by several thousand miles and more years than I care to admit to.
I've made this stew several times since then. It really is delicious and easy to put together especially if you have leftover squash on hand. Try my version or Alanna's or change it up to make it your own.
Squash and Hominy Stew
adapted from Quick Green Chile Stew at A Veggie Venture
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2–4 cups squash (delicata, butternut or other winter squash), roasted and diced
15 ounce can black beans
15 ounce can blackeye peas
15 ounce can garbanzo beans
15 ounce can hominy
10 ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies (I used Ro-tel)
1½ cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth, if you prefer)
1-2 cans water
12 ounce jar salsa verde (I used Trader Joe’s)
Chopped cilantro and/or Curry Roasted Squash Seeds for garnish.
Heat oil in a 6 quart pot. When hot, add onion. Saute until soft and browned. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and summer for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Scoop into bowls. Garnish with cilantro and/or squash seeds.
Serve with corn bread or Pumpkin Braids and seedless mandarin oranges for dessert.
Note: To make squash bowls, cut a turban squash in half, at the line of separation between the rounded base and top section. Place face down on a baking sheet and roast in a hot oven until the center is soft when pierced with a fork.
Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool until easy to handle. When cool scoop the soft flesh from each half leaving a shell of about half an inch along the skin side of the squash. (The removed squash can be used for the squash in the recipe, if desired.) Fill with Squash and Hominy Stew and serve.
Serve with cornbread and a salad, if you like.