Vegetables, pesto and tomato sauce. What can be simpler? But a vegetable stew, when properly cooked, is anything but simple. With just the right amount of aromatics, and slow and careful cooking, a vegetable stew is a carnival of colors and aromas and textures. And, by using a different combination of vegetables each time, you can make this stew over and over, and it won’t feel like you’re eating the same thing.
This vegetable stew has all the traditional Italian flavors. The vegetables are cooked in pure tomato sauce so the result it a richly-flavored and almost dry dish with the tomato sauce generously coating each piece of vegetable.
Italian-style vegetable stew
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large carrot diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 large bell pepper diced
- a generous pinch of sugar
- salt to taste
- 1 cup squash diced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons pesto (see recipe and variation)
- 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups tomato sauce preferably homemade
- a pinch of dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons black olives (optional but works wonders), sliced
- chiffonaded basil (see details), to garnish
- Heat the butter and olive oil. Add the diced carrot, onion and bell pepper. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until the onion starts to turn translucent.
- Add the squash and pesto (pesto contains garlic that’s why garlic is no longer included among the ingredients). Toss to coat all the vegetables with pesto.
- Pour in a cup of tomato sauce. Sprinkle in the oregano. Add the black olives and bay leaf. Stir. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.
- Cook over very low heat, covered, until the vegetables are done. Should take about 15 minutes. Check after 10 minutes, if the mixture looks too dry, add the rest of the tomato sauce. Check the seasonings too and add salt or pepper, or both, if needed. Garnish with chiffonaded basil before serving.