Two days prior to making stew, make a seitan pot roast (see recipe in March 7 post). Refrigerate the leftover pot roast and the 1/2 cup of leftover gravy. The next day, use some of the pot roast to make seitan “cheesesteaks” for lunch and put the small chunk of remaining seitan back in the refrigerator. For dinner, make pasta puttanesca (see recipe in January 19 post). Refrigerate the leftover pasta.
On the day of the stew, rummage through the refrigerator to find one onion, a handful of baby carrots, one potato, some frozen peas and lima beans, and that leftover seitan, gravy, and pasta from the two previous dinners.
Chop the onion, carrots, and potato and place them in a slow cooker with about 2 cups of vegetable broth and the frozen lima beans. Let it cook for a couple hours (until the veggies are just tender), then chop the seitan and add it along with the peas, leftover gravy, and a can of diced tomatoes. Taste to adjust seasonings, adding salt depending on the saltiness of your broth, and any herbs or spices you enjoy — I added some basil and savory. Slow-cook another hour or so. About 15 minutes before serving time, stir in the pasta to let it warm up and soak up some of the rich flavors in the stew. (Alternately, you could heat the pasta on its own and ladle the stew on top, or serve the stew over cooked grains, if that’s what you have in the house.)
So there you have it. An impromptu stew that turned leftovers from two previous meals into a warming and delicious dinner.
(Note: you can also make this stew in a pot on top of the stove — I just felt like using the slow cooker.)