Beef, vegetables and aromatics are stewed in red wine and served over lightly buttered pasta. What's not to love about that? The richness of the stew without butter or cream keeps this dish firmly on the healthier side of the aisle. For an even lighter option, serve the stew as is or enjoy with a lentil or chickpea-based pasta.
Technique tips: A pressure cooker or Instant Pot would reduce the cooking time substantially. Otherwise an oven-safe Dutch oven will do just fine. Use a sachet to enclose the herbs and spices so they are easier to fish out before serving.
Swap option: You can use mushrooms and other vegetables of choice to keep this stew entirely plant-based. Just make sure you sear the mushrooms well to enhance the umami, meat-like flavor.
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) all-purpose flour, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ pounds stew beef cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, core removed and diced
- 12 baby bella mushrooms, halved
- 1½ cups red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves
- 4 black peppercorns
- One 3-inch long stick cinnamon bark
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1. Spread 2 tablespoons of the flour on a flat plate with pinches of salt and pepper. Toss the beef in the flour, covering all sides and dust off the excess.
2. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the beef in a single layer and cook on all sides until it's brown, about 5 minutes. You may have to do this in batches. Remove the browned beef onto a plate.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pot on medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, fennel and mushrooms, pinches of salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the wine, spices and herbs (except the parsley) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the wine gently bubble for 10 minutes. Add the beef, cover and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours, until the beef is tender.
4. Remove 1/2 cup of the liquid into a cup. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and mix well. Add this back into the stew, stirring well for about 2 minutes to help thicken the sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
5. Garnish with the fresh parsley. Serve over your favorite buttered pasta or enjoy as is.