Week Three: Rainbow Week
A coworker recently asked for suggestions of bulk lunch ideas — things she could make and freeze and have ready. I’ll admit I was stumped for a minute. What do I even eat for lunch!? Sure, I have a few sandwich recipes, but my typical workday lunches are much simpler, usually a cobbled-together assortment of snacks or leftovers. But then my brain jump-started itself and I realized that most of my lunches are exactly what she was looking for: recipes made in bulk(ish), often for dinner, then saved and eaten as leftovers for lunch. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Take, for example, this hearty veggie stew (that just happens to be bright red — perfect for rainbow week). I grabbed a few fridge and pantry items and combined them to make a super-filling, protein-rich stew that keeps you surprisingly satiated, thanks in part to bulgur wheat and TVP. It’s a versatile recipe you can adjust based on what’s in the house, though I highly recommend adding the whole cherry tomatoes if you have them — they add a beautiful pop of acidic flavor. (My tomato plants soldiered on well into this unusually warm fall, and I’ve still got some sitting on my counter!) It’s a disarmingly simple stew, but the addition of sharp paprika gives it a nice little kick.
This is one of those simple meals that I tend to overlook when planning dinner (and its resultant leftover lunches). After all, it’s “just” a vegetable stew. But it’s also incredibly nutritious and immensely flavorful. Just the ticket as we move in to the winter and start craving warmth.
Hearty Veggie Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced roughly
- 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp paprika
- Half a cabbage, sliced into ribbons about 2″ long
- 5-6 cremini mushrooms, sliced or chopped into chunks (optional)
- 3 large carrots, sliced into half-moon rounds
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can white beans
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup TVP
- 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (or additional TVP)
- 1 cup veg broth (I use Better Than Bouillon Reduced-Sodium Vegetable Base)
- Salt and pepper to taste (depending on the saltiness of your veg broth)
Heat oil in a large stock pot over low-medium heat, then add the garlic. Sauté for a minute but do not let burn. Add the spices and stir to coat the garlic, then add the cabbage and carrots. Turn the heat up to medium and sauté for another 5 minutes before adding the crushed tomatoes and white beans. Cook for another 3 minutes, then add the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper. Simmer the stew for at least 15 minutes, but ideally longer, until all ingredients are soft. Salt and pepper to taste, then eat.
- Feel free to sub other veggies for the carrots and cabbage — this is just what I had on hand. You could also add some leafy greens at the end if you’d like.
- For a spicier stew, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
- To stretch this recipe and bulk it up even further, add 1 – 1 1/2 cups cooked small pasta to the finished stew. Ditalini works great!