A Vegan Stew as Exotic as Vegan Stew Gets

You’ll never catch me turning down a chance to cook with plantains.  I don’t even know that I like them that much; I’m just enchanted by the idea of using them.  Savory bananas?  Yes, please. (If you’re new to plantains and want to see them in action, you might enjoy the video about plantains I made a while back.)

But this stew recipe takes the weird-ingredient factor a notch higher, by incorporating another not-too-common one: parsnips, in the form of chips.  I always figured parsnips were interchangeable with turnips, since they both end in “nips.”  But no, it turns out they’re more like carrots.  (Which ends in “rots.”)

Finally, I added my own strange ingredient to the mix.  When an author gives me permission to post his or her recipe, I’m careful not to change it (see a Health Blog Helper post about posting recipes to understand why).  But with tomatoes not yet in season and one of the worst out-of-season ingredients you can buy, I decided to try Kumatos, based on my sister’s recommendation.  (Basically, they’re dark, sweet, perfect tomatoes.)

Add a bunch of other vegetables and some pinto beans, and you have yourself one of the most flavorful, satisfying vegan meals I’ve tried.  And Erin couldn’t stop raving about this one, which always makes the husband-cook feel good.

Even better, it’s not much work.  Most of the time is simmering time.  The parsnip chips take a little extra effort, so you could skip them if you’re feeling lazy, but they’re worth it (they remind me of sweet potato fries a little).

This is really a good meal.  Make it for a skeptical, meat-eating friend.  I promise they won’t hate it.  If they do, they’re weird and you don’t need them as a friend. 🙂

Plantain and Pinto Stew with Parsnip Chips

(from Veganomicon, posted with permission)

Serves 4.

  • 1 recipe parsnip chips (recipe follows)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large white onion, chopped finely
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped finely
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded and chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry (any cooking wine will do, or sub vegetable broth)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced and halved lengthwise, and sliced into half-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a soup pot over medium heat, saute the onions, peppers, jalapenos, and garlic in the oil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.  Add the tomatoes, sherry, salt, and cumin.  Cover and bring to a simmer; let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are cooked and broken down.

Add the pinto beans and plantains.  Cover and simmer for another 20 to 25 minutes.  The plantains should be soft and sweet.  Add the cilantro and mix in so that it wilts.

Ladle into bowls and stick a few parsnip chips into bowls, like spears.

Parsnip chips

  • 1 lb parsnips (2 medium size)
  • 2 tsp or so peanut oil

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip them (use tongs for this).  Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.  The parsnips should be flecked with black and dark brown. If some are thinner than others they will cook faster, obviously; remove the skinny ones from the baking sheet as they finish baking.

Line them in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  Toss them around to get the oil over all of them, add a little more oil as necessary.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Peel the parsnips and slice them lengthwise.  Place them cut side down and slice into 1/8-inch thick strips, or as close to that as you can get them.

Sprinkle with salt and serve.



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  1. Love that recipe, it is a good one. I really love veganomicon.
    .-= Devon´s last blog ..Race Week Nutrition =-.

  2. Veganomicon just rocks! I love that cookbook! I haven’t tried this stew yet, but the next time we get snow (probably this weekend) I’m going to make it! Yum!
    .-= Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)´s last blog ..First ride outside! =-.

  3. YUM! I bet it has a nice little kick to it from the jalapenos too. I’ve been eating a good deal of parsnips lately- they’re very tasty but definitely a love it or hate it flavor.
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Vegetarian Split Pea Soup =-.

  4. Now that is what I call a good looking stew! I love parsnips 😉

  5. Matt I keep wanting to try the recipes you post, another tasty sounding one! I’ll for sure try those chips out. Sweet potato chips are one of my favorites!

  6. I have never seen a Kumato before, but now I want one! That stew looks so hearty, that I think my meat eating husband would love it! Another plus, we both love parsnips! Have you ever had mashed parsnips instead of mashed potatoes? They are amazing!
    .-= Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete´s last blog ..FitBloggin’ Conference Recap =-.

  7. Love parsnips…such an underrated veggie.

    I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never cooked plantain and haven’t even heard of kumatos…yeesh..
    .-= Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers´s last blog ..*sniffle* =-.

  8. I’ve been eyeing that one in Veganomicon for a while, but since I’ve never tried plantains before I was a bit nervous that it would turn out gross. Now I really want to try it! Hmmm, now where can I find some plantains…

  9. I have got to try those parsnip chips! The only time I’ve ever had parsnips was in a pasta dish that I didn’t like, so I can’t accurately say if I like parsnips or not. I imagine eating them as roasted “chips” would make them simply amazing. 😀

  10. Christina says:

    That soup sounds delicious!

    Do you think it would do well in a crock pot? I’m thinking 6-8 hrs on low.

    • Christina, yeah I bet it would work in a crock pot. I’d be a little worried about the plantains getting too soft and disintegrating, but give it a try. And let me know how it turns out!

      • Christina says:

        I tried it on the stovetop yesterday. YUMMMM. It’s my new favorite meal!!! This will DEFINITELY be a regular in my weekly menus. I’ll try it in the crock pot next week and let you know how it turns out =) I’m really thinking about buying that cook book!

        • Hey Christina, I’m glad you liked it! I really like the book. At first when I leafed through it, not much caught my eye, but almost everything I make from it is really good. Keep reading, you might be able to win it in the near future…

  11. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I saw it yesterday and immediately had to make it last night. My co-op had plantains but unfortunately they were under-ripe and would take several days to ripen. I had to have this stew now! So, I substituted two different kinds of sweet potatoes: garnet (I think) and Japanese. While I am looking forward to making the stew again with plantains, I highly recommend using sweet potatoes as a substitute, if necessary. I also added some adobo sauce to give it a smoky flavor. The stew was unbelievably delicious! Also, parsnip chips = heaven!

    Btw, I am a new reader to this blog and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate a blog devoted to my two biggest passions: vegetarian/vegan food and running! 🙂 Looking forward to making many more recipes you’ve posted!

  12. Matt,
    Have been reading your blog for a few weeks now. I became Vegan on Feb 1, 2010 and so am just learning the ropes.
    My husband and I will be running the Boston Marathon in 3 weeks, and the vegan lifestyle has done nothing but improve my training. We will then be training for a half ironman triathlon in July.

    I just copied down the vegan stew recipe and will be trying it out next week.
    Thanks for all the great help on your blog. It is also motivation for me to do a little more work on my blog. Kathy Freston’s 21 day cleanse and blogged about it every day. That ended on Feb 21 and I haven’t updated my blog since.

  13. also, just ordered you t-shirt. Can’t wait to advertise the plant based running lifestyle 🙂
    .-= Barb Cymanski´s last blog ..Day 21-what’s next? =-.

  14. Matt, my mother and I just made this stew. We used a slightly hotter pepper because they were out of jalapenos. I was so excited about the parstnip chips because I had mashed parsnips once at a restaurant years ago and had been wanting to do something with parsnips at home. I just loved them. The plantains were terrific. My mom liked the stew too even though it was a little hot for her. Thanks so much. My mom recently decided to cut out meat as well and the recipes you post are so great.


  15. Made this tonight and it was AMAZING!! I skipped the chips though. I am going to add more plantains and see how it goes since I love plantains. I still have half a pot leftover and I bet it will taste even better tomorrow!

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