Fragrant Spring Stew With Orzo & Crispy Pastry Leaves

This stew is called a fragrant spring stew for good reason. Stews are often rich and heavy, but this one here, is quite the opposite. A simple selection of veggies are cooked in white wine and broth, perfumed with delicate herbs and spices and then covered in a beautiful cashew cream. Served over a simple orzo and, for good aesthetic and artistic measure, puff pastry leaves adorn the top. Their crispness complements the creamy sauce and the entire combination elevates this humble stew to a whole new delight. Simply beautiful!

Fragrant Spring Stew With Orzo & Crispy Pastry Leaves

Serves 6

Ingredients:

140g raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes

500g mini orzo pasta, (or any small shaped pasta, rice, or other grain)

125ml water

1 yellow onion, peeled & finely chopped

2 medium leeks, finely chopped

2tbsp vegetable stock powder

3 medium carrots, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 cup frozen or tinned corn

3 large white potatoes, peeled and cubed

250ml dry white wine

500ml boiled water

1 pinch of saffron, soaked in 2tbsp of hot but not boiling water

1tsp freshly grated nutmeg

3tbsp fresh spearmint or mint, very finely chopped (save some for serving)

The juice of one lemon

80g nutritional yeast

125ml water

Half a green bell pepper, finely chopped

130g fresh or frozen peas

150g fresh or frozen green beans, chopped

1 sheet store bought vegan puff pastry

2tbsp plant based milk

A pinch of oregano

A pinch of sweet paprika

Salt & pepper to taste

  • First soak the cashews for 20 minutes in boiling water.
  • Cook the orzo in salted water, according to package instructions and rinse it well with plenty of cold water. The rinsing prevents it from clumping up. Return to the pan and set it aside for later.
  • Preheat the oven to 200c.
  • In a large pan, simmer the onion, and the leeks in 100ml of water over medium heat. Add the carrots, the garlic and veggie stock powder. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated, then pour in the white wine. Add the potatoes, the saffron with its soaking water, the nutmeg and most of the spearmint. Stir to combine and add enough water to barely submerge to potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the cashew cream. Drain and rinse the cashews and place them in a high speed blender with the juice of one lemon, 250ml water and the nutritional yeast. Blend until very smooth and set aside.
  • Roll out the pastry sheet and cut out shapes of leaves in different sizes. Using your knife, create indentations to mimic the veins of the leaves. Place the leaves on a lined baking sheet, glaze them with a little plant milk and sprinkle with salt, pepper, the oregano and the paprika. Bake in the middle/top shelf for 10-15 minutes, until golden and puffed.
  • While the leaves are in the oven, return to the stew. Add the green pepper, the peas and the green beans and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes. Mix in the prepared cashew cream. Simmer for a couple more minutes until thickened.
  • To serve, gently warm up the orzo, adding a drop of water if required. Spoon the orzo in each plate, top with a good ladle of the stew and decorate with a few of the pastry leaves. Sprinkle with the reserved fresh spearmint and enjoy. Such a delightful dish!

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