Leftovers Cuisine: Second-Day Beef Stew with Quinoa and Beans
Mine is: leftovers are terrific opportunities to create a new, different, interesting, exciting dishes! Really. (Or, at the very least, no cooking the next night.)
For example, early this week, we returned from a week-long vacation in Jamaica (Sun! Sea! Sand! Piña Coladas!), and the spouse decided to make beef stew our first night home. It was basic: beef, potatoes, carrots, onions. After one dinner, we had about 1½ cups left—a slightly thick broth, dotted with a few pieces of beef, etc.
To be honest, it did look uninspiring, BUT…
Those Jamaican chefs had inspired me. They had raised leftovers + vegetables + mix-and-match beans to an art form. One night we had turkey as the main meat, the next day at lunch we had a tasty turkey stew with vegetables and two types of beans. Surely, I reasoned, this type of creation was in my cuisine skill set.
Their cooking also had a second appeal for me because it fit the flexible use-what-you-have-in-the-kitchen approach. My recipe uses tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa. Why? Yup, you guessed it.
The result was delicious and filling, plus the spouse liked it! And he doesn’t always go for my mixtures—unfortunately, his mother cooked basic (meat, potato, veg) and served basic (no mixing) and this has had a lingering effect.
If you try this recipe, please use it as a template rather than a fixed-in-stone culinary creation. Feel free to change ingredients, vary quantities, and use your favourite spices.
Second-Day Beef Stew Template
Step 1: Put leftovers in a cooking pot that has a cover. I had 1½ cups.
Step 2: Add enough liquid for your “expandable-while-cooking” ingredients. I planned to add ¼ cup dry lentils and ¼ cup quinoa seeds (rinsed). Hence I added 1¼ cup canned diced tomatoes with juice and 1 cup chicken broth.
I knew that the quinoa only really needed ½ cup of liquid, but 1) quinoa is the thirstiest grain I’ve ever met, and 2) I wasn’t sure about the lentils. Fall-back position? If I ended up with too much liquid, I’d just boil it down; not enough liquid, I’d add broth or water (see Step 6.)
Step 3: Add beans that require cooking, vegetables (including potatoes), and spices. I added the ¼ cup dried lentils, 1 diced carrot, 1 diced zucchini, and some salt. (Unfortunately, I was too busy thinking about the ratio of water to beans and grains to be creative with spices.)
You must use a dried bean type that only needs to cook for 25-30 minutes. Either the beans have soaked ahead of time or, like lentils, they don’t require soaking. Alterna-tively, you can cut back on the broth and add whatever canned beans you have at the end. See Step 7.
Step 4: Bring to boil and simmer covered 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are getting soft.
Step 5: Add grains or noodles that require about 10-15 minutes of cooking. I added ¼ cup of rinsed quinoa seeds.
If you decide to use shirataki noodles, just add at the end of cooking along with canned beans. See Step 7.
Step 6: Simmer, covered, until all grains, noodles, and vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction. This step took me about 12 minutes.
Check the stew after about 5-7 minutes to make sure you have enough liquid. If not, add more broth or water.
Step 7: Add pre-cooked or canned beans, rinsed, and cook for another 1-2 minutes. I added 1 cup of chickpeas.
Step 8: Enjoy! The spouse and I ate this as a main dish, each with a slice of bread for mopping. We had enough left over to have it the next night as the vegetable + starch side dish along with a chickpea burger (more on this later when I fine-tune the recipe) and salad.