Friday, June 22, 2012

Spaghetti Stew

Is it glamorous?  No.  Is it beautiful?  Heck no!  But spaghetti stew is comfort food at its finest, and one of the tastiest ways to use up those singletons.

What's a singleton, you ask?  A singleton is one zucchini in your veggie drawer.  A singleton is one tomato, getting softer each day, in your fruit bowl.  A singleton is one veggie, or a small portion of food, that you can't make anything with on its own, but is still useful.  The trick is to find uses for your singletons before they get buried or hidden in your fridge and they go bad.

Spaghetti stew can be made almost entirely of singletons.  That's what mine is:  except for the bag of carrots and the celery, every other vegetable was a singleton, aging but still good.  I made a pot of elbow macaroni to mix in with the kids' stew, but my husband and I ate it as-is, with a little parmesan cheese.  So good it doesn't even need the noodles!  And despite the name, I recommend shorter pasta over spaghetti, because you want everything to be bite-sized.  Macaroni, ziti, rotelle, you name it. 

Is it pretty enough to serve to company?  Probably not.  (Go with the pork chops for that.)  But if you want something thrifty, tasty, and healthy (minus the pasta, it's all veggies and lean protein), this is the stew for you!

Tell me - what do you do with your singletons?

All you singletons, time to mingle!

Spaghetti Stew


  • 1 large onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (approximately - you just want all your veggies about the same size - smaller than bite-sized, but still big and chunky)
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin coins
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-8 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 jar marinara sauce, or 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  1. In a very large stew pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and meat in the oil.  Brown the meat and season with salt and pepper.  Add the garlic and stir so nothing sticks or burns.
  2. Add the rest of the veggies.  If you are still slicing as you go, add them in order of cooking time:  carrots first, since they are hard and take longer to cook, then the softer veggies.  Stir in the dried herbs.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine.  Add the marinara and wine and stir.  Cover, turn down the heat to a simmer, and let cook for about 30 minutes.  You want the veggies to be cooked through but still retain their shape and some firmness.
Serve with lots of grated parmesan.  You can serve this over pasta, or with big slices of bread.  We're watching our carbs, so we ate ours with a side of roasted broccoli, and of course, the rest of the red wine!

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