By Chef Linda
A ragout is a slow-cooked French-style stew. While the French originally declared meat or fish as a necessary ingredient, many cultures have demonstrated that when vegetables take center stage, ragout is equally rich and satisfying. Slow-cooking this dish can help develop more complex flavors, but it's not necessary since there's no meat. Even vegetables like potatoes cook up nicely in less than 30 minutes if you prefer to get this dish on the table sooner rather than later. By all means, cook this dish longer if time allows and have extra vegetable broth on hand to keep it from drying out.
You can eat ragout on its own or with a starch like polenta, couscous, rice, or pasta. You may balk at the notion of serving this particular ragout over rice since the recipe calls for potatoes, but you'll appreciate a lovely bed of something to soak up the flavorful sauce. I like this Mediterranean Artichoke and Potato Ragout in spring when the chill is still deep in my bones but my body is craving lightness. Artichokes, available in the northeast from March through May, come with a bevy of health benefits. Their fiber can help lower blood sugar and blood pressure and cynarin, a compound found in artichokes, assists your body in getting rid of cholesterol. In fact, there are so many vital antioxidants in an artichoke that it's ranked number seven on the USDA's list of top 20 antioxidant-rich foods (and Russet potatoes are #17). Did I also mention artichokes are high in iron? And because frozen artichokes hearts are readily available, you need not be intimidated by the fresh version.
With only a few ingredients to prep, this lazy stew comes together easily. The low-heat, slow-cook method gives you time after work to shed the day's skin and slip into something warm and cozy before curling up with a steaming bowl of goodness.
Mediterranean Artichoke and Potato Ragout
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 vegan Italian-flavored sausage links, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
3 to 4 large cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
12 to 16 ounces frozen artichokes, thawed
1 (14 ounce) can chopped tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or use 2 cups dry white wine)
1 pound Russet potatoes scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped or whole
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Parsley for garnish
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
In a large pan, heat oil over low-medium heat. Add fennel, onions, and salt. Cook, while stirring occasionally, for about 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add sausage, garlic, oregano, and rosemary. Continue to cook until sausage has browned slightly, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add artichokes, tomatoes, broth, vinegar, potatoes, and olives. Stir together then cover. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and all the flavors have had a chance to develop. Add lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. This dish should have a slightly tangy, salty taste. Serve over rice if desired, or alone, garnished with parsley.