I hope this post inspires you to become a master of the produce section and make all sorts of wonderful stews!
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Instant Pot Stew
This stew is:
Easy + Foolproof
Flexible + Adaptable
I started going to the produce section at Whole Foods and randomly picking out ingredients to make into a stew. While it started as a completely random process, over time I came to rely on a method to choose ingredients, and I realized that it was worth sharing.
- Eat all organic produce that is currently in season – Allow your cooking to flow with the seasons. If you’re going to the grocery store, allow yourself to adapt with the changes in produce availability. Not all vegetables are available at all times of the year. If a certain vegetable isn’t available organic, then pick out a different organic vegetable! It’s also possible to lessen your dependence on the grocery store if you can get in-season vegetables from your own garden, a local community supported agriculture (CSA) share, or farmer’s market.
- Eat the rainbow – When it comes to the colors of vegetables, aim to eat all colors of the rainbow so you get all the wonderful benefits of the different phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Choose your own adventure – If you have any known food intolerance for ingredients I mention in this post, please do not include them in your stew. If you’re not sure about your food intolerances, you can order an at-home test and get some clarity. I make all my stews gluten-free and dairy-free due to my own intolerances. This is totally a choose-your-own-adventure recipe rather than a normal recipe, so allow yourself to play around and have some fun with it!
- Make a stew that is both delicious and nutritious – Because it is totally possible. This stew can be anything you decide it to be. Really. 😉
All the Vegetables
Here’s where you get to choose your own adventure! Pick around 7-10 different types of vegetables. There are thousands of different beneficial phytochemicals that can be found in plants. Each vegetable you can find in the grocery store has multiple health benefits. For this reason it is best to eat a variety of vegetables, which can easily be done when you make this choose-your-own-adventure stew. Regularly ask yourself, “Which vegetables haven’t I had in a while?” You can use some different vegetables each time you make a stew.
Keep in mind when selecting root vegetables that the smaller they are, the easier it will be to chop them up. For this reason, I prefer to choose several smaller vegetables rather than one giant one.
I recommend washing vegetables by rubbing them with a towel dampened in purified water.
So, these are all the vegetables I’ve enjoyed adding to stews! I’ll continue updating this list as I find new vegetables.
- Leek – One of my favorites. They’re delicious and fun to chop up, so I get them every time they’re available.
- Celery – Celery goes well in pretty much any stew.
- Scallion – Scallion is also known as green onion. It pairs well with leek.
- Carrot – Orange, Purple, or Rainbow. They are all fantastic, so I try to switch them up every time. Parsnip – I recommend just adding one parsnip. They are a bitter vegetable but the taste gets masked pretty easily with all the flavors of a stew. If you add too many parsnips, you may notice the bitterness.
- Radish – In order of my favorite to least favorite: Red, Easter Egg, Purple Top, Watermelon, and Daikon. I add some kind of radishes to nearly every stew I make.
- Beet – Golden beets are my favorite. Using even one red beet in a stew is too overpowering in my experience, but it can be done.
- Weird Looking Roots – Burdock Root, Sunchoke Root, Celery Root. I especially love using burdock and sunchoke whenever they are available.
- Garlic – I am obsessed with garlic so I like to use 2-3 heads per stew. Garlic contains the phytochemical allicin which has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It’s a good idea to add some extra garlic to your stew if you notice yourself starting to feel sick.
- Onion – White, Yellow, Shallots, or Sweet Onion (my personal favorite).
- Potato – Yellow, Russet, Red, or Sweet. I mostly like to use red or yellow potatoes. Using sweet potatoes really changes the flavor of the stew to be more sweet than savory, and I prefer the savory tastes. However, you could totally make a cinnamon, sweet potato, beet stew like I did once! My husband called it the “dessert stew,” haha.
- Mushroom – I don’t love the texture of mushrooms in stews, but my husband does! Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.
- Fresh Herbs – Chives, Thyme, Rosemary, Parsley, or none. Fresh herbs are great in moderation. Too much rosemary will make your stew a bit bitter, but you can’t go wrong with some subtle but lovely chives or parsley.
Meat or No Meat, It’s Up to You
I like to use around 1-2 lbs of meat per stew, but you can use as little or as much as you’d like. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily make a vegetable stew with no meat. My favorite meats to use are:
- Chicken – Organic.
- Lamb – Non-GMO, Grass-Fed.
- Beef – Organic. You can’t find organic beef stew meat at Whole Foods, but if you’re located in Michigan and are interested in buying high-quality organic and non-GMO meat from local farmers delivered straight to your door, check out Michigan Farm to Family.
I vary the spices a bit each time depending on what flavors I’m going for and how spicy I want it to be. These are the main ones I use:
- Turmeric or Curry Powder – I add some to every stew I make, but the amounts vary. If you add a lot, your stew will have a delicious curry flavor. If you’re new to using these spices, start with some to see how you like it, and then try adding more the next time.
- Cayenne – A little bit goes a long way towards making a spicy stew. If you want to make a spicy stew, start with a little shake of cayenne. If you still want it spicier, you can add more the next time you make it. If you don’t want your stew to be any kind of spicy, don’t use cayenne.
- Cumin – I like to add some cumin to all stews I make. It’s hard to go wrong with it since it’s such a great flavor. It goes well with all other spices mentioned here.
- Italian Seasoning – Italian seasoning is great for more of a mild flavor. I use more of this seasoning when I use less turmeric or curry powder.
- Poppy Seeds – They’re not really a seasoning, but I enjoy throwing some poppy seeds into my stews.
- Anything Else – If you have other spices you think would go well in your stew, go ahead and give them a try! Allow yourself to experiment and play around with the spices.
The Recipe: Putting It All Together
It normally takes me around 2.5 hours to chop all the vegetables and put them in the Instant Pot.
- Turn on your Instant Pot and put it in Slow Cook mode.
- Pour some broth in the bottom of your Instant Pot. You can use anything you have: chicken broth, beef stock, vegetable stock, bone broth, etc.
- Begin chopping up your vegetables. Put each ingredient in the Instant Pot as you chop them up. The order of chopping depends on what you picked out, but I like to go in a general order.
- Start by chopping and adding any Leeks, Onions, Chives, Shallots, or Scallions.
- Then, chop and add some root vegetables, like Carrots or Radishes.
- Add your raw meat, then add your chosen spices directly onto and around the meat.
- Chop and add any other vegetables on top of the meat.
- End with Garlic, since it takes the longest to peel and chop. After placing garlic in the Instant Pot, stir up the ingredients a bit so the garlic is distributed throughout the stew.
- After you’re done adding all ingredients and spicing it up, put the Instant Pot in Pressure Cook mode on high-pressure for 12 minutes.
- After the stew is done pressure cooking, release the pressure and turn it back to Slow Cook mode. For the best tasting stew, allow it to slow cook for 2-6 hours (or until dinner time, whichever comes first).
- Enjoy your stew!
I’d love to see what you make, so add your photos to the “tries” on Pinterest or share them with the hashtag #chooseyourownadventurestew on social media!
If you enjoyed this post, please share it!