Vegetable Medley Stew | Ghiveci de Legume

If you are ever in the mood for a lot of different vegetables in a juicy stew, then you should consider this Romanian recipe. The ingredients listed below represent a sample of delicious fresh vegetables that are easily available in the fall in my home country, and they are the ones I grew up enjoying in this dish. However, feel free to use any others that you like, or change the quantities and proportions in any way that you prefer.

You should also note that there are quite a bunch of ingredients, which means that you will likely end up with a lot of food. Plan for having family and friends over to enjoy the food, or consider freezing some of it for a later time.

 - One yellow onion
 - One leek
 - One parsnip
 - One celery root
 - Two zucchini
 - Eight small yellow potatoes (or four-five larger ones)
 - Eight-ten fresh tomatoes, or one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
 - A small head of cabbage
 - Three or four cups of green beans
 - Two colorful bell peppers
 - A small head of cauliflower
 - Two cups of peas
 - Two cups of chickpeas, or one 15 oz can of chickpeas
 - Half a bunch of parsley
 - (Optional) A pound of pork shoulder or other meat for stews
 - A quarter cup of oil
 - Spices: salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves

 - Use a large pot that can accommodate the entire dish.
 - If you have meat, start by cutting it into small pieces, and quickly fry it on high heat in oil until it turns brown. Do not cook it thoroughly at this point - it'll cook later on with the vegetables anyway. Remove the meat from oil and set aside.
 - Clean and cut the onion, leek, parsnip, and celery root. Cook them in oil on medium-high for about 5 minutes, and stir regularly to not burn. Add a cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes while stirring regularly.
 - Meanwhile, clean, peel, and dice the zucchini into cubes. Add them to the pot, and cook for another 5 minutes.
 - Clean, peel, and dice the potatoes. Add them to the pot, together with the can of tomatoes and two cups of water. Add spices: I used eight bay leaves, a bunch of fresh thyme. Also, add salt and pepper to taste (prefer to add less than needed, as more can be added later). Stir gently, and reduce the heat to medium-low.
 - While the dish is cooking, we'll quickly proceed with the remaining vegetables. Start with the cabbage (cut it into smaller pieces and add it to the pot), then the green beans (cut into 1-1.5 inches long), bell peppers (diced), cauliflower (separate the florets), and finally the peas and chickpeas.
 - Add the cooked meat back to the dish (if you're using that).
 - Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for another 30 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked). The dish should be about three-quarters submerged in liquid.
 - Remove from heat. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes (or until serving time).

 - The dish has a bunch of cooked vegetables: they're certainly healthy, though maybe not the sexiest photo models. One trick to improve the presentation is to select vegetables of a varied assortment of colors: orange and red from carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes, green from the peas and green beans, yellow from potatoes, and lighter colors from cabbage, cauliflower, parsnip and celery root.
 - Some fresh chopped parsley added right on the plate adds a touch of color and freshness to the dish.
 - For meat lovers, consider keeping the meat out of the stew, and instead serve the dish accompanied by a fried or grilled piece of meat (sausage or pork chop). The meat then adds a beautiful spot of brown deliciousness to the presentation.
 - Finally, the vegetable medley stew goes really well with pickles, a slice of bread, and maybe a beer.