Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Bulgarian Red Pepper Stew

While going through all of the old photos on my phone I found a photo I took at work (hence poor lighting). This is one of my favourite stew recipes. It's so hearty and tasty and nutritious and the red capsicums are absolutely delicious. I know the photo is ugly. It really doesn't do it justice: the red peppers are really red! Just focus on the ingredients instead.

I originally found the recipe in Sundays in Moosewood Restaurant, but there have since found other versions of the recipe online. Here's my version below, with notes of the variations I've made. This is definitely a stew that takes time, so I have it ticking away on a Sunday afternoon while I'm sewing and doing other things. But sometimes I get a hankering for it on a cool Sunday afternoon and haven't had the foresight to put the lentils on to soak the night before, so I do substitute for tinned but they don't hold their shape or texture nearly as well.

Bulgarian Red Pepper Stew

½ cup dried lentils (or 1 tin brown lentils, drained)
½ cup dried navy pea beans/great northern/borlotti beans (or 1 tin borlotti beans)
2 larges onions, chopped
6 mediums red capsicums, de-seeded and chopped. I quater my capsicums and just slice them on a mandolin. (I have also made this recipe with tinned tomatoes substituted for some of the red capsicums: 4 capsicums and 400 g tinned or fresh tomatoes)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
¼ tsp dried thyme (I've also used fresh herbs and increased the quantity and they taste great)
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper to taste (I looove pepper, so I put in loads of the stuff)
750 ml vegetable stock (although sometimes I've needed up to 1 L)
60l dry red wine (optional)
2 tbsp dry sherry (optional)
¼ cup tomato paste
Fresh parsley and Greek/natural yoghurt to serve

Soak legumes overnight, drain. In a fresh pot of water, bring to the boil then simmer until just tender. Drain, set aside. I prefer to cook mine beforehand and add later in the cooking, because I find that the salt from the stock makes the beans a bit tough.

In a large, heavy based pot, saute onions in olive oil until soft. Stir in bell pepper and saute for 5-10 mins more. Add paprika and cayenne, stir through for 1 more minute.

Pour in stock, wine and sherry. Add herbs and legumes. Bring to the boil, lower heat to a simmer and leave for 1 1/2-2 hours uncovered or partially covered, stirring occasionally. Mix in tomato paste and S&P to taste. Simmer for a further 5-10 mins, adding a little extra stock or water if the stew is too thick.

Serve with a good dollop of yogurt and chopped parsley sprinkled on top. Goes very well with a good, crusty cob bread.

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