Berley-esque Miso Stew

I enjoyed reading Peter Berley's "The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen" very much indeed. I was favorably impressed by the Spinach Mushroom Quiche featured at 101cookbooks.com and was curious to learn more.

"The Modern Vegetarian" featured radically innovative recipes. Aggressively healthy. Brave. Roasted vegetable pate with miso, for instance. Thats when I sat up and started to pay attention.

Peter Berley is clearly a talented chef (My students tell me I say 'clearly' too often. Apparently, its not always clear to them. Sigh. But I digress) Regardless, Peter Berley is a talented chef. Very solid on techniques and ingredients. Combines the two (techniques and ingredients) to startling results. Quite fearless.

"The Flexitarian Table", his new book, is just as delightful but has a gentler theme. Its a book that seeks to bring people with diverse food preferences to the same table. Delightful premise, no?! It seems like every family these days has the meat-and-potatoes boyfriend, the vegan teenager, the conservative uncle, the vegetarian daughter-in-law and so on...

Happily, the recipes are just as good. Organized into menus, by seasons, the book brings out Berley's macrobiotic background to good advantage. I tried the Autumn Miso Stew with a few changes to suit my tastes and such.

Heres what I did
1. Chopped up some carrots, onion, squash etc. (About 2-3 cups of vegetables) Whatever one wants to put into a stew.
2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Chuck in the chopped onion (about quarter cup). Let the onions turn golden brown (no need to caramelize).
3. Add a tablespoon each of chopped ginger and garlic. A sprig of thyme (rosemary). I used a quarter teaspoon dried thyme. Saute for a couple minutes.
4. Add the vegetables and gave them a good stir. Cover with 2 cups of water and let cook.
5. In about 15-20 minutes, the vegetables will have cooked. Take the stew off the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons barly (mugi) miso. Taste and add salt if required. No more boiling after adding miso or the cultures will die.
6. Serve warm with bread.

Additional options:
1. I've been known to toss in some greens and/or lentils. The original recipe included tofu.

The verdict: The vegetables bring a shy sweetness to the stew. Ginger, garlic and thyme (which I thought was an unusual combination) add spice while the miso brings in a kind of nuttiness to the stew. What I liked most about this recipe is that Berley has the ingredients just right. He has just enough flavors in there to make for an intriguing combination but not so many as to make the recipe daunting or too busy. Needless to add, its healthy and what-not! And since its so decidedly yellow, the stew goes to kochtopf for International Womens' Day!


Asha said...

Beautifully yellow, love it Smita. Like the title too!:D

bee said...

i have miso and it's been staring plaintively at me. thanks for this great recipe idea.

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Sangeetha said...

I never tried miso, except for the occasional soup in the restaurants (I opt for spring rolls instead most of the time!)...but you have inspired me to try it the next time I get a chance.
The stew looks great!

zlamushka said...


lovely. I enjoy sneaking miso everywhere, too.