Vegan Grain Stew with Sweet Potatoes, Hazelnuts and Crispy Bread Crumbs: 45 min recipe of a hearty, flavorful and nutritious vegan stew. Perfect for autumn!
When it’s chilly outside and it’s getting dark at 3 p.m. It’s a good time to have a bowl of steaming stew made of whole grains and fresh seasonal vegetables for lunch or dinner. Stews are very easy to make and there are so many varieties of them (remember my German stew recipes?) I improvised with stews for quite a while and I’d like to share some stewing wisdom with you. Although you can freely improvise with grains, meat, vegetables and sauces, there are some general rules to make your stew tasty:
- Start with meat, fish or vegetables. Try roasting your beets before putting them to the stew. Their flavor will be preserved inside the crust. Same counts for meat: sear it in batches before stewing.
- If you make a meat-based stew, keep the so-called “font”, a dark glaze left on your pan after frying your meat is very important for the aroma and rich nutty flavor of your stew.
- Add wine or dark beer to your stew. If you need an example, here is one: German Stew Pears, Beans and Bacon. If you are using meat, a good time to add wine or beer is after you have seared it. Scrap your pan to make sure the font is dissolved in wine.
- You’ll need a broth base. Whether you are making a plant-based or a non-vegetarian stew, choose your broth accordingly and add it to your vegetables/meat after you’ve roasted/stir-fried/seared them. I’m never tired of saying that homemade broth is way better than canned. Add it to the stew and bring to a boil. Afterwards it’s time to lower the heat.
- Simmer rather than boil. Don’t try to make it faster by increasing the heat. It won’t help you. Just cover the stew and let it simmer in peace over low heat (stirring occasionally).
- Add ingredients gradually, according to their cooking times. If you overcook them, your stew will be too mushy. Although it depends on the type of eat you are using, meat stews normally take about 1.5 – 2 hours to make the meat tender. It doesn’t mean that potatoes need the same time. You can also cook your stew in the oven! Once you added the broth, put the covered pot in the oven under 150 °C or 300 °F for the same amount of time. Vegetarian stew is usually simmered for about 30 minutes, which makes it my hit ’n’ run recipe for this time of the year!
- Use onions and/or garlic. Fry them in a pan before putting to the stew, to give them a nice caramelized flavor.
- Add grains. Barley, wheat, rye, spelt, quinoa or rice will make the stew more hearty and nutritious.
- Add lentils, peas or beans for extra protein. Potatoes will work well, too.
- Add herbs and spices. Rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, basil, marjoram, paprika: smoked and/or sweet, sage, coriander, chili pepper, ginger, nutmeg, cumin, fennel seeds… It depends on what you choose as a main ingredient: meat, fish or beans, grains and vegetables. Don’t forget to add fresh herbs on top of your stew, when it’s ready: parsley, basil, dill, cilantro or chives.
- To thicken the stew, gradually add a bit of flour-broth mixture to the stew when it’s almost ready. Another option would be to add a bit of ground nuts (that’s exactly what I did in this recipe). Potatoes will do the deal here, too.
- To add some crunch, use breadcrumbs, croutons or toasted bread. They will balance the texture of your stew. To add some creamy notes, add a tablespoon of sour cream or vegan cashew sour cream for serving.
- Just like Russian borsch, stews are getting even better on the next day. It makes sense to make a big batch of stew to enjoy it for up to one week. You can also freeze it for t least 2 months.
These are the most important tricks for making a great stew. If you can’t wait to practice, here you go: meet Vegan Grain Stew with Sweet Potatoes, Hazelnuts and Crispy Bread Crumbs. It’s very easy to make and it takes much less time than traditional meat stews. All in all, it took me 45 minutes to make it! Moreover, it’s very hearty, flavorful and warming, being well-balanced and rich in nutrients and vitamins and low in carbohydrates at the same time. Let me know what you think.
Vegan Grain Stew with Sweet Potatoes, Hazelnuts and Crispy Bread Crumbs
- 1 big sweet potato
- olive oil
- 200 grams or 1 1/4 cup whole grains (any combination of wheat rye, barley, spelt, oat and millet), soaked over night
- 600 ml or 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 medium-sized carrots
- 1 onion
- 1/2 leek
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 400 oz ml or 2 13.5cans tomatoes or the same amount of fresh diced tomatoes + 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 400 oz ml or 13.5can kidney beans
- 2 leaves bay
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 handful green olives without stones
- black pepper
- 4 tablespoons ground hazelnuts + more to serve
- 3 slices whole grain bread
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- optional: sour cream or vegan cashew sour cream to serve
- Preheat the oven to 180 ºC or 350 ºF. Dice the sweet potato and transfer to a baking dish or tray. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.
- Put the grains in a large pot or skillet and pour the vegetable broth in it. Bring to a boil and lower the heat.
- Meanwhile, finely chop garlic, chop onion, peel and slice carrots and leek. Heat a lug of olive oil in a saucepan or skillet. Add vegetables in it and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Transfer to the broth. Add diced tomatoes with juice, drained beans, bay leaves, smoked and sweet paprika. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Once the sweet potatoes are ready, add them to the stew together with olives. Before the end, add ground hazelnuts and season with salt and black pepper.
- Make the bread crumbs: heat a lug of olive oil in the skillet you used for onions over medium-high heat. Break bread slices with your fingers into small pieces and transfer them to the skillet. Add garlic powder, salt and black pepper and fry until golden and crispy, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve the stew with breadcrumbs, ground hazelnuts, fresh herbs and (optional) sour cream. Enjoy!