Travel the World in a Stew Pot

When I hear “we’re having stew for dinner,” I feel a warm, cozy sensation. Almost always, that thick, flavor-drenched stew with its hearty gravy and a mountain of colorful chunky ingredients promises delicious pleasure and delivers warm, yet humble satiety. Stew, at its heart, is a very simple dish, yet in the kitchen of a loving cook, whether here in the U.S. or on some faraway continent, that stew can transform into a bewitching, spice-infused bowl brimming with enchanting flavors that capture a magic moment.

If the thought of an irresistible stew resonates you the same way, then come along on a most unusual travel adventure! We’ll explore just what makes a bowl of stew so darned delicious! Learning what curious ingredients we’ll find in the stew pots of different cultures makes our adventure enticing. By journey’s end, our stew pot will have traveled to four continents with visits to the U.S., Italy, Morocco, West Africa, South Africa, India, Indonesia, and Mexico before returning to the comforts of home.

Starting with Burgoo

We begin our journey close to home and head for the state of Kentucky for a spoonful of hearty Burgoo, a regional stew that’s been a favorite at social gatherings since Civil War times. Burgoo is a long-standing tradition for dining on Kentucky Derby Day, which is traditionally held on the first Saturday in May. This highly-favored stew is richly seasoned, spice-infused, and packed with a fridge full of veggies.

Burgoo has historians aflutter with contradictions about its origin. History tells of a French chef who cooked the stew with wild game and local ingredients for employees of a Kentucky distillery. It’s possible that maybe the French term “ragout” eventually morphed into “burgoo,” or it might have been a mispronunciation of “bird stew.” Author Eugene Walter and the editors of Time-Life Books American Cooking: Southern Style calls Chef Gus Jaubert the father of burgoo. He was known for cooking a huge quantity of the stew for Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalry during the Civil War.

Paddling to Naples

Now we’ll paddle our way across the ocean to Naples in Southern Italy where they grow the tastiest tomatoes that pack our stew with unmistakable paisano flavor. The country’s sunny climate brings out the best in veggies like zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers that form the base of our Neapolitan Cannellini Ragout heaped to the brim with these wonderful Italian treasures. The secret to its distinctive Mediterranean flavor lies in a little touch of kitchen alchemy with the familiar herbs and spices attributed to Italian cooking.

Spicing the Harira

Our curious little stew pot will now venture across the Mediterranean Sea to a land that centuries ago fell in love with spices of the world. Morocco’s national stew, Harira, is blessed with nearly a dozen different spices that dwell happily together in harmony, yet never overwhelm the palate. Although Harira is closely associated with Morocco, it evolved in the countries of the Maghreb, the area loosely referred to as Western North Africa that may include Western Sahara, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya.

This aromatic, flavorful stew, traditionally served to break the fast at sunset during Ramadan, is also served often throughout the year. To accompany this savory dish, Moroccans frequently serve it with dates or figs on the side, and enjoy a hearty bread to complete the meal.

Dipping into Pumpkin Stew

West Africa is our next destination where we dip our spoons into a pot of vibrant African Pumpkin Stew, a dish blessed with native squash called pumpkin, similar in flavor to our familiar kabocha squash. Because this stew pot has a curious wanderlust, it has endowed the stew with a banquet of spices collected from the pantries of many countries that border Africa’s west coast. We’ll be enjoying the flavors of Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire, and Sierra Leone in every ladleful.

Finding Potjiekos

Our stew pot will sprout some wings to reach our next destination in South Africa for a bowl of savory South African Potjiekos, a stew that was created with a unique history. The literal translation of potjiekos (pronounced poi jee kos) is “small pot food.” Historically, it was a combination of meat and vegetables cooked with only a small amount of liquid in a three-legged cast-iron pot, called potjie (pronounced poi chee) brought to South Africa by the Dutch settlers in the 1800s. The stew was cooked outdoors using tiny quantities of wood, grasses, or dried animal dung to create a slow cooker effect where the food is gently steamed rather than boiled. Typically, the potjie was not stirred to allow each ingredient in the pot to retain its unique flavor. This stew flaunts a generous measure of red wine, though beer would also be a traditional substitute and a satisfying addition that complements the host of vegetables. The unique flavor booster in this stew is a cup of dried apricots, lending a touch of sweetness to this savory meal.

Taking the Silk Road to India

Some of the richest, most highly seasoned stews are found in the kitchens of Northern India where our stew pot travels next. A key stopover on the ancient Silk Road, India is blessed with an imposing array of spices that are either indigenous or were easily cultivated in the warm climate. During the Middle Ages in Europe, spices were mainly the cache of the wealthy and were used to barter for goods. So highly valued, the spices were kept in boxes that were willed to close relatives when the owner died. Even the poor had small quantities of pepper used for trading or as part of a dowry. It was the ingenious home cooks of India who found those spices compelling enough to incorporate into an everyday stew pot of lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, and cauliflower.

Cruising to Indonesia

Our whirlwind journey of discovery wouldn’t be complete without a cruise across the Indian Ocean to alluring Indonesia. It was here that native chefs first fermented soybeans to create flat cakes of tempeh, one of the robust ingredients in our Savory Indonesian Stew. The country was also one of the fortunate ones to benefit from a bushel of spices, some native, some cultivated, and some imported. Influenced by the many cultures that traded goods throughout centuries, Indonesian foods are infused with the pungent flavors of garlic, ginger, cardamom, and star anise. Lending further enhancement to the stew are soy sauce and tamarind, familiar ingredients that traveled from Asia. While the tempeh and treasury of spices lend unique heartiness to the stew, they are accompanied with a wealth of vegetables, giving this stew its divine mystical flavors.

Traveling to Mexico

Once again, we board our seaworthy stew pot and journey to Mexico, our final destination, for a bowl of captivating, chile-infused Guisada Mexicana. Guisadas are typically meat-based stews tucked into tacos along with veggie toppings. But this bracing vegan stew stands on its own with a lively touch of minced jalapeño, a pinch of cayenne, and a spoonful of chili powder to bring out its hallowed South of the Border flavor.

The global sojourn is over, but we can easily enjoy reliving the fun-filled culinary journey. The compelling recipes that follow are the key to helping us revisit each country with its fragrant stews and recreate them in our own well-seasoned stew pots!


(Serves 8)

Burgoo is enjoyed throughout the year at large celebrations. To replace its meaty origins, I’ve lightened the pot with moist chunks of veggie beef strips. Cubes of tofu also work well, but burgoo is robust and hearty on its own without the vegan meat or the tofu. Traditionally, this meal begins with a mint julip and is accompanied with a generous serving of corn bread.

  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 quarts plus ⅓ cup water, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon cold-pressed grapeseed or canola oil
  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 medium red or white potatoes, cut into large chunks
  • One 12-ounce package frozen, defrosted lima beans
  • One 12-ounce package frozen, defrosted black-eyed peas
  • One 8-ounce package frozen, defrosted cut okra
    or ½-pound fresh okra cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 green peppers, chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 vegan chicken bouillon cubes (such as Massell)
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • One 28-ounce can no-salt whole tomatoes, chopped
  • One 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained, or corn cut from 3 fresh ears
  • One 10.5-ounce package vegan frozen, defrosted beef
    or chicken strips (such as Gardein
    or Beyond Meat), cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • One 8-ounce can no salt added tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon distilled or apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Juice of ½-1 lemon, or to taste
  • 2 lemons, cut into 8 wedges, for garnish
  • ½ cup minced fresh parsley, for garnish

In a 12-quart stockpot, combine the celery, onion, garlic, ⅓ cup water, and oil. Cook and stir over high heat until the onions begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 or more Tablespoons of water as needed to avoid burning the vegetables. Add the remaining 2 quarts water, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, lima beans, black-eyed peas, okra, green peppers, bouillon cubes, and pepper flakes. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 7-10 minutes, or until the vegetables are just beginning to soften. Add the whole tomatoes, corn, vegan beef pieces, tomato sauce, vinegar, salt, hickory smoke seasoning, and black pepper. Simmer about 5-7 minutes longer, until the vegetables are tender.

Before serving, squeeze in the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings to taste. Spoon generous portions of burgoo into soup bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of parsley and a wedge of lemon.

Total calories per serving: 438 Fat: 7 grams
Carbohydrates: 77 grams Protein: 19 grams
Sodium: 778 milligrams Fiber: 13 grams


(Serves 6)

Harira, the national soup/stew of Morocco, is served throughout the year, but is the favored choice as a Ramadan staple at sunset after the long day’s fast. Serve the Harira with dates, figs, and hearty bread.

Spice Blend

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • One 10-12-ounce package vegan frozen, defrosted Chick’n Strips
    (such as Gardein or Beyond Meat), cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon cold-pressed grapeseed, organic canola, or extra-virgin olive oil

Harira Stew

  • 1 Tablespoon cold-pressed grapeseed oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 quarts vegan low sodium chicken broth
    or 2 quarts water and 4 cubes vegan chicken bouillon cubes
  • 5 medium tomatoes, chopped, or one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup brown lentils
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • Two 3-inch sticks cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup broken, egg-free vermicelli
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 fresh lemons, cut into wedges

Combine the Spice Blend ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the vegan chicken pieces and toss well to coat them. Brown the chicken pieces in the oil in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot over high heat, tossing continuously for 1-2 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a bowl, set aside, and prepare the Harira in the same stockpot.

To prepare the Harira, put the oil in the stockpot and add the garlic, celery, carrots, and onions and cook over high heat tossing frequently for about 2 minutes. Add 1 or more Tablespoons of water, if needed, to prevent burning the vegetables. Add the vegan chicken broth, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, brown and red lentils, cinnamon sticks, and other stew spices. Bring the mixture to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Add the vermicelli and cook about 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the reserved chicken or beef pieces and cook another minute or two to combine the flavors. Adjust the seasonings to taste and garnish each serving with chopped cilantro and lemon wedges.

Total calories per serving: 417 Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrates: 58 grams Protein: 25 grams
Sodium: 878 milligrams Fiber: 14 grams

Neapolitan Cannellini Ragu

(Serves 6)

Baked in the oven, this stew is so Italian you’ll think you’re dining in a trattoria in Southern Italy! Because this is a winter stew, I’ve used canned tomatoes, but when fresh tomatoes are in season, use 3 large tomatoes, sliced or chopped. If you’d like, serve the ragout over cooked polenta, rice, or pasta.

  • One 28-ounce can no-salt whole tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed eggplant
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • One 14-ounce can cannellini beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 6 large pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  • 6 pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons reserved bean liquid
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5-6 clusters of parsley
  • 1 recipe Homemade Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and have an 8-inch square baking dish ready.

Carefully remove each tomato from the can and squeeze it to release its juice back into the can. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and put half into the bottom of the baking dish. Put the remaining tomatoes in a small bowl and set aside. Set the tomato liquid aside.

In a deep skillet, combine the onion, eggplant, zucchini, red and green bell peppers, garlic, fennel seeds, and oil. Cook and stir over high heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown. Turn off the heat.

Add the beans, green and Kalamata olives, bean liquid, vinegar, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper and mix well. Put half the mixture into the baking pan and spread the remaining chopped tomatoes over the top. Add the remaining vegetable mixture and spread it evenly.

Pour 1 cup of the reserved tomato liquid from the can into a cup or bowl and add the cornstarch. Mix well to dissolve the cornstarch completely. Pour the tomato-cornstarch juice over the vegetable mixture.

Bake uncovered for 35 minutes, until bubbling hot. Spoon into individual bowls and top each with parsley and a sprinkle of Homemade Parmesan.

Total calories per serving: 348 Fat: 14 grams
Carbohydrates: 39 grams Protein: 13 grams
Sodium: 514 milligrams Fiber: 13 grams

Homemade Parmesan

(Makes 1 ¼ cups)

Often I’ve come to rely on a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan to add sparkle to a dish, soup, a casserole, or an appetizer. With only five ingredients, this recipe is almost instant to make and tastes enough like the real thing to put the Italian touch on everything from pizza to minestrone and a host of everyday dishes. Double the recipe and tuck in the fridge where it will keep until you’re ready for an Italian delight. It keeps well for up to two months.

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

Put the almonds in a food processor. Process until they are finely ground, yet still retain a bit of texture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl. (Avoid over-processing or the nuts will turn into almond butter.) Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well mixed. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Total calories per 2 teaspoon serving: 30 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 1 gram Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 79 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

South African Potjiekos

(Serves 8)

Cooking potjiekos (pronounced poi kee koss) was a relaxing family tradition in South Africa with everyone gathered around the potjie (the cast-iron Dutch oven pronounced poi kee) while it was cooking outdoors over wood. Traditionally, very little liquid was used in the potjie, but I’m much more generous and love to have plenty of pot juices for dipping some hearty bread.

  • 4 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks (about ½ pound)
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • ¾ pound white potatoes, with skins, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large onions, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 14-ounce package Lightlife Gimme Lean vegan sausage (or similar), broken into coarse chunks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon cold-pressed grapeseed organic canola oil
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup minced parsley, for garnish

Prepare the cabbage, carrots, celery, sweet potato, apricots, and white potatoes and set them aside.

Combine the onions, garlic, vegan sausage, water, and oil in an 8- to 10-quart stockpot. Cook and stir the mixture over high heat for about 2 minutes to soften the onions. Add 1 or more Tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning. Add the prepared vegetables, along with the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, wine, soy sauce, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and black pepper. Mix well, cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork-tender. Adjust seasonings to taste.

To serve, spoon a generous portion of the stew into each bowl and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley.

Total calories per serving: 275 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 49 grams Protein: 13 grams
Sodium: 720 milligrams Fiber: 11 grams

African Pumpkin Stew

(Serves 8)

Vegetable stews abound in African cuisine and often contain robust seasonings. Kabocha squash, also called Japanese pumpkin in the U.S., is recognized by its deep green, somewhat mottled skin and is available year round. Serve the stew over steamed brown rice.

  • 1 kabocha squash (2 ½ to 3 pounds)
  • 4 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 4 pounds tomatoes, diced
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne, (optional)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, ribs discarded, finely chopped
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped, divided
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint, plus extra sprigs for garnish
  • 1-2 jalapeño chiles, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Cut the squash in half with a firm, sharp knife. Discard the seeds. Cut the squash into 1-inch chunks, put them in a bowl, and set aside.

Put the onions and carrots in a food processor. Process until minced and transfer them to an 8- to 10-quart stockpot. Add the tomatoes, water, and spices to the stockpot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium or medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the reserved squash, Swiss chard, ½ cup of the peanuts, ½ cup mint, and jalapeño and cook another 5-10 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Before serving, add the lemon juice and mix well. Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish each serving with the remaining ½ cup peanuts and a sprig of fresh mint.

Total calories per serving: 242 Fat: 10 grams
Carbohydrates: 36 grams Protein: 10 grams
Sodium: 154 milligrams Fiber: 9 grams

Rajastani Ragout

(Serves 8)

I love this Indian-inspired ragout. If you decide to serve it immediately after cooking, you’ll be dipping your spoon into very tasty soup and wonder why it’s called stew. But, after standing at room temperature for an hour or two, or spending a few hours in the refrigerator, the soup magically turns into a scrumptious, hearty, and thick ragout.

  • 8 ½ cups water
  • 1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 ½ cups brown lentils, rinsed
  • ½ head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 2 medium red or white potatoes with skins, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3-inch stick cinnamon
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼-½ teaspoon ground coriander (optional)
  • ¼-½ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped parsley, for garnish
  • 1 ½ cups frozen defrosted peas, for garnish

In an 8- to 10-quart stockpot, combine the water, mushrooms, brown lentils, cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, red bell pepper, red lentils, cinnamon, garlic, bay leaves, curry powder, salt, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, and cardamom. Cover partially and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are softened. Stir occasionally and check for sufficient water.

Add the cherry tomatoes and lemon juice and cook for 1-2 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed. Serve as a soup immediately, or turn off the heat and allow the ragout to rest at room temperature for 1-2 hours to thicken. Reheat gently to warm through.

To serve, spoon a hearty portion of ragout into each bowl, sprinkle lightly with the parsley, and finish with 2-3 Tablespoons of peas sprinkled over the top.

Stored in the refrigerator, leftover Rajastani Ragout will keep for 5 days. If the ragout becomes too thick, add ½ cup or more of water when reheating.

Note: Garam masala, available in Indian markets, perhaps in the international aisle of your supermarket, or homemade, is a blend of spices that differs with every Indian cook. It may contain a combination of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, dried chiles, fennel, mace, and nutmeg.

Total calories per serving: 331 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 61 grams Protein: 22 grams
Sodium: 214 milligrams Fiber: 19 grams

Savory Indonesian Stew

(Serves 8)

While most of the vegetables in this Indonesian-inspired stewpot are familiar, the unique seasonings that create its exotic flavor, like tamarind, Chinese chili bean paste, cardamom, and star anise, can be found in Asian markets or online. Boosting heartiness are bite-size chunks of tempeh, a fermented soybean cake native to Indonesia where herbs and spices from surrounding countries add to its delicious, melting-pot cuisine.

  • 1 ½ quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3 medium onions, quartered
  • 10-12 cloves garlic, peeled, whole
  • 2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped
  • 1 ½-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 6-8 whole star anise
  • 1 pound tempeh, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3-4 Tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chili bean paste
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 medium red or white potatoes, with skin, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 large leaves kale, ribs discarded, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 4-6 Tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 6 sprigs fresh mint
  • 3-4 limes, quartered
  • 1 ¼ cups roasted peanuts

In a 10-quart stockpot, combine the broth, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, ginger, cardamom, and star anise. Cover the stockpot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. With the liquid simmering gently, lift the cover and add the tempeh, soy sauce, tamarind paste, and chili paste and stir well to incorporate them into the broth. Cook gently about 5 minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes, red potatoes, kale, and zucchini and cook another 5-6 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are just fork tender. Stir in the lime juice and brown sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Adjust the seasonings as needed.

To serve, spoon a generous portion of the stew into each bowl. Garnish each with a sprig of mint and 2 lime quarters. Sprinkle roasted peanuts over the top and serve.

Total calories per serving: 410 Fat: 18 grams
Carbohydrates: 47 grams Protein: 20 grams
Sodium: 374 milligrams Fiber: 7 grams

Guisada Mexicana

(Serves 6)

Guisada is typically a mixture of stewed ingredients tucked into a taco. I’ve expanded the idea, turning it into an irresistible Mexican fiesta in a bowl.


  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves

Stew Pot

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 3 medium red potatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped into 1-inch squares
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • One 14-ounce can pinto beans with liquid
  • ¾-1 pound meatless ground protein
  • 1 ½ cups chopped tomatillos
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, diced
  • 3-inch stick cinnamon
  • ½ -2 jalapeños, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • Pinch cayenne (optional)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half


  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 6 lemon or lime wedges
  • 4-5 jalapeños, sliced

Put the tomatoes, onion, and garlic into a blender and process until smooth and saucy. Pour the blended sauce into an 8 to 10-quart stockpot.

Add the stew pot ingredients, except the cherry tomatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes. Don’t overcook.

Spoon generous servings into bowls and garnish each bowl with cilantro sprigs, a lemon wedge, and slices of jalapeño.

Notes: If desired, serve over rice and top each bowl with a generous dollop of vegan sour cream. I used a 13.7-ounce package of frozen Gardein Beefless Ground, defrosted. An alternative choice to consider might be textured vegetable protein hydrated with water.

Total calories per serving: 315 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 53 grams Protein: 22 grams
Sodium: 743 milligrams Fiber: 13 grams



Written by Zel Allen

Zel Allen is a regular contributor to Vegetarian Journal. She is the author of several vegan cookbooks.

Written for the Vegetarian Resource Group, and originally appeared in the Vegetarian Journal.

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