Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back To My Roots

One of my favorite childhood memories was when my parents would take my brothers and I to the Farmer's Market on the North Side of Pittsburgh. Looking back, unfortunately, I think we would go all too infrequently.

I especially remember when we would go in the Fall and I have vivid memories of screaming bloody murder as the train conductor blew the horn and waved hello as he passed along the tracks which paralleled the lot where the market was held.

At the risk of sounding cliché', I loved the earthy smell of the vegetables and the herbs. (I've always said, I never met a root vegetable I didn't like). I enjoyed the warmth that radiated from the roasted nut and popcorn stands. I loved the crisp fall evenings, the taste of apple cider, and the fresh, true flavors of the vegetable samples that you just can't find outside of a farmer's market today. Even the white-noise hum of the generators was oddly comforting.

These memories, to this day, come racing back every time I smell Dill. For this reason, I love Dill, and why I love to make this earthy, comforting and healthy dish chock-full of root vegetables. Typically, I make this stew during the fall and winter months, but thought it seemed appropriate as my first recipe post for this blog. With most of the ingredients readily available now at my local Farmer's Market, I think back to those earlier days and I guess this is my attempt to recreate the North Side Farmer's Market, in a bowl.

I first found this recipe many years ago in a Wednesday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. But it was a re-post from Moosehead Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites by the Moosewood Collective (1996).

I hope you enjoy!


Ukrainian Beet and Bean Stew
Serves 6 -8


1 teaspoon Vegetable oil

1/2 onion, sliced (about 2 cups)

1 stem chopped celery (1/2 cups) - I like to add the green leafy tops as well.

3 cups water

1/2 cabbage, sliced ( 3 cups)

1 to 2 medium carrots, sliced (1 cup)

3 cups cubed potatoes ( I don't even peel them)

4 cups peeled and cubed raw beets (5 or 6 medium beets)

1 - 28 oz can, whole tomatoes, un-drained (organic)

2 teaspoons, Caraway seeds

2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 - 15 oz can cooked kidney beans ( organic)

1 tablespoon dried dill (or 1/4 cup fresh)

Ground black pepper to taste

Chopped scallions to top

Low-fat or non-fat yogurt ( exclude if you are Vegetarian)


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, add oil and heat over a medium flame.

Add the onion slices and celery, and saute' on medium heat, stirring continuously for 4 or 5 minutes, until browned.

Add 1 cup of the water, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the cabbage and carrots, stir well, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 cups of water, the potatoes, beets, tomatoes, caraway seeds, vinegar and salt; bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 35 minutes, or until beets are tender.

Add the kidney beans and dill.

When the stew is hot, add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve with chopped scallions and yogurt.

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