Southern cuisine is notorious for being both delicious and heavy on meaty mains. But the wealth of fresh produce and classic ingredients available in the region gives it staying power for everyone trying to move away from animal products (looking at you, okra and fried green tomatoes). When I visit my own family, it is these ingredients that have always drawn me in. One of my most vivid Southern food memories is shelling black-eyed peas into a bowl with my grandmother, my fingertips quickly becoming stained with the deep violet color of the pods. Southerners know how to take vegetables and make them the centerpiece of the plate.
Trying to adopt a mostly plant-based diet while visiting family can be a challenge. Old family recipes tend to be pretty inaccessible to those looking for a plant-based shift, but they don’t have to stay that way. I’m all for preserving traditional recipes, but if we can’t adapt them and make them our own, what is cooking really about?
Lately, in trying to eat more heavily plant-based meals, I have been doing my research to update some classic Southern foods. This plant-based Brunswick Stew recipe is decidedly non-traditional, as it is a very old recipe generally reserved for game meats. Here, I’ve updated it with a less classic ingredient, tempeh. This fermented and probiotic soybean product is a serious protein powerhouse for the plant-minded set, and the fermentation process helps to unlock its dense wealth of vitamins and minerals, including B6 and Riboflavin.
By all means, continue to preserve the culinary history of your family, whether by collecting hand-written recipe cards or emailing your aunt for your favorite casserole recipe. But today, grab your slow cooker and try out this new spin on Brunswick Stew.
Plant-Based Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew
1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large Russet potatoes, skinned and chopped into 1-inch chunks
1 cup corn
1 14.5 oz can of red kidney beans, drained
1 package organic original tempeh, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 14.5 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes
1 12 oz can of tomato paste
1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 hefty pinch Maldon sea salt
10 grinds of black or multicolored peppercorns
Peel and chop a large yellow onion finely, and mince two cloves of garlic. Add to sauté pan with a few tablespoons of water, and cook over medium-high heat until translucent and caramelized lightly on the edges. Add small amounts of water as needed, to avoid sticking and burning.
Peel and chop 3 Russet potatoes into 1-inch chunks, and add into your slow cooker. Add 1 cup of frozen corn, kidney beans, and 1 package of original-flavor tempeh, chopped into bite-size chunks.
Add onion and garlic mixture into the slow cooker.
Add vegetable broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and coconut palm sugar to the slow cooker.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Add a large pinch of flaky Maldon sea salt and 10 grinds of pepper, adjusting to your personal taste. Serve with your favorite bread.