Cynthia Stone
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Our wallets are skinnier and we aren't, so let's look at a couple of options that are lean from all perspectives.

Mixed bean stew

This mixture is satisfying and warming on a cold January evening. If your resolution was to eat more vegetarian, this won't make you feel even a little bit deprived. This amount makes a substantial meal for six, but is wonderful leftover the next day and freezes well, besides.

1 large onion, diced

2 large stalks celery, thinly sliced

3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped

1 small turnip, peeled and diced

3 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. each dried rosemary and thyme

1 15-oz can red kidney beans

1 15-oz. can black beans

1 15-oz. can chickpeas

2 tbsp. each hot or grainy mustard, cider vinegar and brown sugar

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups vegetable broth or water (Add a little salt if using water.)

1 large bunch fresh greens - kale, mustard greens, collards, chard - whatever looks good, coarsely chopped

1 big bunch fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Fry onions, celery, carrots and turnip in oil until starting to soften and brown. Add garlic, rosemary and thyme and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add beans - no need to rinse - mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, broth and greens and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in parsley and lemon juice just before serving.

Pork and apple stew

Pork is seldom considered for the stew pot and that is a shame. It absorbs and enhances whatever flavours are added to it, and it is quicker to achieve fall-apart tenderness than beef. Depending on how firm the apples are, they may fall apart and dissolve into the gravy - not at all a bad thing - but if they retain some of their texture, the result is sublime. This sweet and tasty mix serves six to eight.

2 lbs. boneless pork roast, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup flour mixed with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp. each dried sage, thyme and cumin

2 bay leaves

3 cups chicken broth or water (you may need more salt if using water)

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups peeled diced carrots

4 cups diced yellow or red potatoes (peeled or not, as you prefer)

2 large tart green apples, cored, peeled and diced

1 cup each frozen corn kernels and green peas

1 tbsp. maple syrup

Dredge pork in seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Brown in small batches in oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion to the pot and fry until golden. Add garlic, sage, thyme and cumin and cook a minute longer, until fragrant. Add bay leaves, broth, salt and pepper and return pork to the pot. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, until pork is starting to get tender - you could eat it but it would be chewy. Add carrots, potatoes and apples and simmer 1 hour. Add corn, peas and maple syrup and cook another 5 minutes.

Curried lentil tomato stew

All curries are really just stews, and this one is fabulous. Boil up some jasmine or basmati rice and pass the yogurt to six people you adore. You can make this even more substantial with the addition of chicken pieces, but I don't miss the meat at all in this highly seasoned concoction. To toast the almonds, put them in a dry frying pan and stir over medium heat until golden brown.

1 large onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, grated

2 tsp. hot curry powder (or to taste)

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 cup tomato paste

4 cups chicken broth

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1-1/2 cups rinsed and drained green lentils (Brown will also work but avoid red.)

1/2 cup each raisins and toasted slivered almonds

1 large bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Fry onion and carrot in oil in a Dutch oven until starting to soften and brown. Add garlic and ginger and cook together a minute or two, until fragrant. Add curry powder, salt, pepper, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cloves and cook another minute. Add tomato paste and continue to fry until mixture is a deep brown colour - about 5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Add raisins and almonds and heat through. Stir in cilantro or pass it to sprinkle on top.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, NL, A1E 4N1.


Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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