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When last we left our heroine, she was munching on roasted chick peas, throwing avocado on anything edible, cooking you shrimp scampi and promising her dear readers a version of one her most favoritist meals of all time.

But then things happened, which, in no particular order involved tight deadlines, covering at work for a honeymooner, and a 75 pound dog named Charley.

The favoritist meal ever is coming, I promise. But first, let’s warm things up with an oft’ taken for granted classic that happens to be not only delicious, but also one heck of a veggie fake-out.

Root Vegetable Beef Stew w/ Gremolata
adapted from Jamie’s Dinners
serves 4

1 & 1/2 pounds cubed chuck (stew meat is cheap! Buy organic/grass-fed!)
handful fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
an assortment of cubed root veggies, which may or may not include – rutabaga, butternut squash, garnet  yams, sweet potatoes, sunchokes, celeriac, fingerlings, carrots, parsnips
2 tablespoons tomato paste
14 oz beef stock
1/2 bottle red wine

for the Gremolata

zest of one lemon
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Step 1: In a dutch oven or heavy soup pot, saute the onion and sage leaves in olive oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, toss the beef cubes with a couple tablespoons flour and plenty of salt & pepper. Step 2: Add the root veggies one at a time, giving each veggie its own time at the bottom of the pan before adding the next ingredient, adding salt as you go. Do the same with the tomato paste. Step 3: Add the meat to the pan, give it a stir, and add the liquids. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover. Step 4: You now have a choice. You could cook on the stovetop for 3 -4 hours, stirring occasionally, or, you could cover and put the whole pan into a 350F oven for 3 or so hours. I have tried both ways, and I think I prefer cooking it in the oven. Step 5: Cook until the meat is falling apart. Spoon into bowls, top with the gremolata, and enjoy.

Did you notice anything interesting about the recipe? I don’t brown the meat before making the stew, I just add it right in, and honestly, I can’t imagine a more tasty fall-apart-on-your-fork stew meat. Also, the addition of gremolata to a beef stew is a bit unexpected, and seriously, it makes the difference between simply being a comfort food classic, and giving beef stew a flavor that’s complex and guest-worthy.

And let’s not forget that this was a veggie fake-out. My husband happily gobbles this stew up by the bowlful, despite its being laden with carrots, parsnips, butternut squash and garnet yams (I couldn’t find sunchokes yesterday, and I missed them, they are ridiculously good in this stew.)

On our official veggie fake-out broccoli head rating scale, I give this recipe 7 out of 10 heads of broccoli.