Mediterranean Lamb Stew over Creamy Polenta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, large dice
1 bell pepper, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ¼ pound leg of lamb, medium chunks
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
½ tablespoon dried thyme
15 dried apricots, quartered
15 olives, pitted
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, large chunks
3 ½ cups water
½ cup milk of choice
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 cup polenta or coarse yellow corn meal
¼ cup butter
Preheat oven to 350.
Put a Dutch oven or ovenproof covered pot on a burner with medium heat.
Add oil and sauté onions and peppers for 5-7 minutes. Add garlic. After a minute or so, add the lamb.
Cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat all the ingredients.
Add wine, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, apricots, olives, lemon zest and juice. Then season everything with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Let the stew come to a boil and then cover with a lid. Put into oven for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, add zucchini and give everything a good stir. Put back covered in the oven for another 30 minutes or until meat is tender.
Bring water, milk, salt and pepper to a boil in a saucepot.
Whisk in the polenta and lower the heat to a simmer.
Cover with a lid, slightly ajar and cook for 45 minutes or until soft.
Check on polenta every 5-10 minutes to give it a stir. Add more water or milk if polenta starts to become too thick.
When the polenta is done, stir in butter and taste for seasoning.
To serve family style, spoon the polenta onto a big platter. Let cool for about 5 minutes to firm up a bit. Then, top with stew or keep polenta and stew separate for all to help themselves.
Vegan: Substitute 1-14 ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for lamb in stew. Use vegan margarine for butter in polenta. Use a nut, seed, coconut or soy milk in polenta.
Vegetarian: Substitute 1 14-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for lamb in stew.
Gluten free: Use gluten free flour or potato starch in the stew, and cauliflower mash or quinoa in place of polenta.
Dairy free: Substitute dairy free margarine for butter in polenta. Use dairy free milk in the polenta.
Soy free: Use any milk other than soy milk in polenta.
Allium free: Substitute 1 large fennel bulb, sliced, for onions and garlic in the stew.
Kosher: Use a kosher wine in stew. Use dairy free milk and substitute pareve margarine for butter in polenta. To make recipe kosher for Passover, substitute cauliflower mash or quinoa for polenta.