image borrowed from thekatsgarden.blogspot.com

So last night I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  I knew the protein I wanted to use was some leftover smoked kielbasa, but I didn’t want to make the same dish I usually make with kielbasa (a take on a mashed potato bowl).  I decided to make what my mom would call a “fricasee,” basically just a mishmash of ingredients, and serve it over rice.

T did the grogery shopping on Monday afternoon by himself, so I hadn’t really inspected the veggies he’d chosen.  I looked in the crisper drawer, and I had broccoli, asparagus, a zucchini, and a tub of precut winter squash chunks.  I could definitely see the squash and kielbasa complimenting each other.  Then I looked in the pantry, and spotted a can of black-eyed peas.  There was canned corn, too.  I’d just seen an episode of Good Eats on summer squash, where he invoked the Three Sisters of Native American agriculture: corn, beans, and squash.  Why not throw in the zucchini (a summer squash), and some canned tomatoes (also with American origins), and call it a stew?  I was pretty stoked about the whole idea.

I started with the squash chunks, since I knew they’d take the longest to cook.  I threw them in the steamer.  Then I started some instant rice, with a generous dollop of vegetable stock base in the water to flavor the rice.  I cut both the kielbasa and the zucchini lengthwise and then into 1/4 to 1/2 inch chunks.  I sauteed the kielbasa to get it a little bit browned around the edges, and then sauteed the zucchini with salt and some lemon pepper for a few minutes until it had softened.

I dumped the whole can of diced tomato into a saucepan, followed by the drained can of corn.  I rinsed most of the paste off the canned black-eyed peas before putting them in.  The squash was quite tender from steaming at this point, so I scooped that into the pot, along with the zucchini.  It looked like way too much food, and the ingredients really didn’t look like they were going to go well together, so I got pretty nervous at this point.  But it was too late now.

I realized that I needed seasoning.  I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I should have sauteed some onion for the base, but instead I added a little onion powder.  I also had to consider the black-eyed peas, which are really beans.  An old minestrone recipe from when I was in the Peace Corps had called for soaking dried beans with ginger, to cut down on the gas, and it had always seemed to help.  So I threw in some powdered ginger too, since the flavor is pretty mild and goes well with garlic.  I let that heat for a few minutes, and then tossed in the browned kielbasa and put it on medium-low for 10 or 15 minutes to stew.

Like I said, I was pretty nervous about this concoction, so I tasted the broth after a few minutes.  Turned out, it was pretty darned good — the sweetness of the squash  and corn complimented the sausage, the tomato added a little acidity, and some of the squash dissolved into the tomato juice, along with the beans, adding a little bit of a thickening agent.  I had T try it as well, and he agreed that it was surprisingly tasty, but a little more salt would do it.  Then I served it over the rice.

Remember the generous dollop of veggie stock base in the rice?  Well, it was a little TOO generous.  The rice was so salty, it almost overpowered the stew.  But overall, it was quite a successful meal, tasty, hearty, and quite filling — and I only have a small portion left over!  It was so good, I forgot to take a photo.  *laugh*  I definitely think I’ll do something like this again.

(I can’t tell you whether the ginger really worked its magic, however, since we started the meal with a Beano appetizer just to hedge our bets.  *smile*)

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