The main seasonings in this stew are fresh ginger, sage, and soy sauce—an unusual combination. The recipe is from the winter section of Peter Berley’s cookbook Fresh Food Fast. The instructions say to cook the wehani (a dark red rice) and the wild rice in a pressure cooker. I don’t have apressure cooker so I just cooked them for longer in a regular pot. Otherwise I followed the recipe carefully, except I added my mushrooms much later than Berley suggests, since I wanted my mushrooms to be firmer. This stew has a lot of vegetables in it: onions, mushrooms, celery, a carrot, winter squash, and one bunch of kale. After sauteing all the aromatics you add the squash chunks and simmer them til almost tender, then the sauteed veggies and the raw kale are added to the pot with the rice, and simmered until the kale is tender. You’re supposed to garnish the stew with toasted pumpkin seeds.
My stew didn’t turn out very stew-like. I think of a stew as chunky soup with a really thick liquid base. But this stew was more like lots of veggies in a little bit of broth. I used butternut squash, and the pieces seemed to either alternately undercooked or totally following apart. Maybe it would have been more stew-like if I had cooked the squash longer, so all the squash pieces were falling apart? Certainly the rice didn’t add much of a stew-like quality. That said, I liked the recipe. It was a bit of a surprise (but not unpleasant) when I bit into a round of sliced ginger! (Berley never says to take the ginger out, so I imagine you’re supposed to eat it?) I added extra sage but didn’t really notice it in stew. The stew didn’t really have a distinctive flavor. It just tasted earthy and like vegetables. But it made a pleasant (if not very filling) dinner on a cold winter night. I wouldn’t rush to make it again, but if I had all the ingredients lying around, I would certainly consider it. But I’d probably add more liquid to make it more of a soup.
Berley pairs this recipe with a romaine salad, but I think it would be better paired with a dish with a bit more protein, to make the meal more filling.