Fiesta Stew Recipe
Mexican-inspired flavors are my favorite and since it’s starting to get cold, my salads and burrito bowls seem a bit less appropriate (still eating them though tbh). Last winter, I decided I needed to make something warm with that same black bean-corn-cilantro-peppery-goodness. This "stew" is what I came up with. I didn't actually know what defined a “stew” when I started this, I always thought it was just thicker soup, but according to google it means meat and vegetables cooked slowly in liquid so, by definition, this is not a stew but I'm rolling with it anyway because “thick soup” just doesn’t sound appetizing. There's a unique ingredient in this recipe, and it's the reason for the thickness - have you ever heard of amaranth?
I hadn't until about 2 years ago when it was discussed in one of my lectures at school. Amaranth is a grain-like seed, like quinoa, and also like quinoa, it has a bunch of nutritional benefits! It's a great (and complete) source of plant-based protein, super high in iron, calcium, and fiber, and it's got a bunch of other vitamins and minerals that I won't bore you with here. When I heard all this, I had to try it, especially being someone who uses quinoa all the time (maybe too much?). Here’s what I found out though, amaranth may be similar to quinoa in many ways but it’s texture… is very different.
I didn’t do too much research (very unlike me), I just bought some, and started cooking it up with the plan to use it like I typically use quinoa. As it cooked I came to the realization that I would not be using it as planned, it looked like boiling Floam, it was strange and sticky. I ended up putting it aside in the fridge, and doing something else for dinner that night. Then I did some googling and revisited it the next morning, I tried it like a breakfast porridge with bananas, peanut butter and some local honey. It was edible, but I didn’t love it.
Months later my friend told me about a soup she had at work that had amaranth in it. I still had some in the pantry leftover from my first experience, and I was excited to consider a use for it that might be more enjoyable. While the “boiling floam” wasn’t for me, I found that amaranth is much better in a dish that is meant to be mostly liquid, and can benefit from its sticky quality for adding thickness.
This is a recipe but it has minimal measuring, and maximum flexibility to suit your individual preferences, so feel free to get creative with it!
1 cup Amaranth
7 cups Vegetable Broth
2 cans Diced Tomatoes (I used 1 can of fire roasted, and 1 can of no salt added, whatever works, you could also do diced fresh tomatoes)
1 can Black Beans
3 Bell Peppers (I used red and green)
A handful, or so of Frozen Corn (or canned)
2 Onions (I used white, you can use red, white, yellow, vidalia, whatevs)
7+ Garlic Cloves (I love garlic, feel free to go with what suits you)
A drizzle of EVOO
A bunch of Cilantro
- Chop up onions. Mince garlic. Dice bell peppers. Mince jalapeños (include the seeds and the pith if you want it extra spicy).
- Drain and rinse the black beans.
- Toss the onions and garlic in the bottom of a large pot and drizzle a little EVOO on them. Turn heat to medium-low, and stir occasionally until the onions begin to look clear.
- Add the tomatoes, black beans, peppers, jalapeños, corn, and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir, and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil.
- Add Amaranth. Stir.
- Chop up the cilantro, and stir half of it in.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes (be sure to get the bottom of the pot with your spoon).
- Taste it, and then add the spices to your heart’s content. Try not to have a heavy hand, you can always add more, but you can’t take it out once it’s in!
- Stir in the rest of the cilantro.
- The only things that are crucial in this recipe are the broth, the amaranth, and the tomatoes. If you only used those, it might be boring but they’re the only things I’d call non-optional.
- Actually, if you’re not feeling daring, you could use quinoa instead and reduce the broth measurement to 5 cups. So, even the amaranth is optional.
- You can add more vegetables/beans to this if you’d like, or you can use less than I did. The only thing that the amount of vegetables/beans determines is the total yield. I was doing meal prep for the week, so I made a large batch. You could do it without corn, with more corn, with less peppers, with zucchini, without garlic, whatever you want. If you do add significantly more you may want to add more broth, or it will be more of a chili consistency. If you do less vegetables, don’t do less broth, amaranth needs lots!
- Serving this with some fresh avocado, and a squeeze of lime juice on top would be a great way to take it up a notch!
Thank you for reading! Let me know if you try this recipe - leave me a comment, or share a photo and tag me!