The Sick and the Dead [Tuscan Tomato, Bread & Shrimp Stew]
I had hoped to come here and talk a little about the return of fall weather, warm blankets, hot tea, scarves and longer, cozier hugs… but life has gotten in the way and I’ve become Dr. Kelly while Mr. GL suffers through a terribly painful viral “thing” that’s left him unable to eat, sleep, or talk much. I won’t go into details since I doubt he wants me sharing his sicky-secrets with you, but we’ll just say that we’ve slept very little, done very little (in the way of going out, that is. My body would tell a different story), and put all our focus on getting him better as he returns to school for Horticulture Industries this week (HOORAY!)
I’ve completely neglected this, my favourite little space to come and chat, while we’ve been dealing the last 10 days, and I’m sorry. But I’m sure you understand. I’ve found myself in the kitchen a whole lot this week, trying to find things that my patient could manage to eat; mashed potato bowl filled with Zoodles (don’t even pretend you’re not impressed), baked potato soup (we’ll talk about that soon), a horribly green but delicious broth packed with potatoes, spinach, apple, ginger, carrots and cinnamon (this was Mr. GL’s only “food” for a few days) and a whole lot of pudding, but at no point did I have any time to sit and catch up with you about the kitchen triumphs and failures of the week.
I am pooped (and questioning my want to have a house full of children) and my brain is still a little fogged over and cob-webby. I probably shouldn’t be writing (many apologies for the lack of creative content and witty repartee) but I so badly wanted to share a dish I made a week or two ago that soothed like the warm hug I really needed at the time. A stew created from a bunch of on-the-way-out ingredients I desperately needed to find a home for. It was simple, rustic, and satisfied more than some old bread, tomatoes and shrimp ever should. I think you’re going to love it - and because I love you, I’m going to quiet down and get to the good stuff. As the temperature begins to drop, I hope you’ll make a batch and let it warm your bones as it did mine.
Tuscan Tomato, Bread and Shrimp Stew
Because this is a stew made from whatever happens to be hanging around, feel free to use whatever bread, beans and veg you have on hand. It’s difficult to mess this one up.
1/2 medium onion of any colour
2-3 cups vegetables (carrots, celery, parsnips, zucchini etc) chopped into 1/2” chunks
3 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh tomatoes (I used grape, but any type will do)
1 can beans with liquid (white beans, chickpeas, navy beans)
pinch or two red pepper flakes
1 qt chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup tomato sauce (crushed tomatoes will work, too)
3 cups torn up day-old bread (crusty white bread, whole wheat baguette etc)
1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
1/3 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
Olive oil (to garnish)
fresh basil (the garnish)
fresh ground pepper
Drizzle a large pot over medium heat with olive oil to coat. Once hot, add the onions and let them sweat for 5 minutes. Add the vegetables and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes until beginning to soften. Turn the heat up slightly and add the tomatoes, beans, red pepper, stock, tomato sauce and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the bread and shrimp and cook for a minute or two more. Shrimp should be pink and cooked through. Remove from heat. Add the parsley and stir. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
Spoon into bowls and top with basil, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.