HEAT 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. ADD the onions, carrots and celery and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. ADD the peppers and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. STIR in the wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes. ADD the olives, parsley and reserved 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Variations: By simply adding different lean protein sources, different seasonings, and serving with different grain foods, this stew can easily be transformed into lots of different dishes from around the Mediterranean.
Greek Stew with Shrimp. Add 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and 24 peeled uncooked shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Serve over bulgur with a little crumbled feta cheese on top. Alternatively, instead of the shrimp, add peeled fava (broad) beans.
Spanish Tuna Stew. Stir through 2 teaspoons of paprika and 24 oz (720g) cubed fresh tuna, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of rice. Alternatively, serve with crusty bread instead of rice. If preferred, you can also use good-quality canned tuna rather than fresh.
Moroccan Fish Stew. Add 2 teaspoons ground cumin, ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and chili powder, and 24 oz (720g) cubed firm white fish such as snapper, cod, or haddock, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of couscous garnished with chopped fresh cilantro (coriander). Alternatively, replace the fish with either canned chickpeas or cubed chicken breast.
French Provencal Chicken Stew. Mix in 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 24 oz (720g) cubed chicken breast and 32 halved green beans, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Serve with some crusty whole wheat bread. Alternatively, add cubed firm white fish or tuna in place of the chicken.
Italian White Bean Pasta. Stir through ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, 14 oz (420g) can white beans, such as cannellini, cover and cook for 3 minutes then toss with 1 lb (500g) cooked drained pasta. Serve with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese. Alternatively, substitute the beans with cubed chicken breast.
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