Day 5 of the October Unprocessed Challenge and it is a challenge! Honestly, no chocolate, no cheese, and no milk in my coffee are the hardest adjustments so far. Did you catch that? No. Chocolate. Even though it’s been less than a week, I already find myself hyperaware of all the additives that are in our foods, even in things labeled as “natural” foods. In taking on the challenge, I’m sharing my experience with all of you, and with my friends, family, and colleagues. Last week the challenge sparked some great conversations at work this week about how we define processed foods and whether all additives are “bad.” I hope the challenge continues to make others pause and think about what’s in their food.
One thing that has completely surprised me is how much fun I’m having just browsing and trying recipes to keep me on track with the challenge. I mean, I’m a nerd, so I enjoy hunting for recipes and unprocessed substitutes. It’s odd, I’m almost happy when I see chemical additives on the labels I’ve been reading because it forces me to up the creative ante. I think it’s the competitive nature in me. Additives? We don’t eat no stinkin’ additives! I can’t reach for the cheese, cream, or boxed chicken broth (I was shocked to find that the chicken stock and chicken broth I scrutinized at two different grocers had sugar, amongst other additives) to add depth of flavor to my cooking. The obvious go-to? Fresh herbs. They are our friends.
As part of the challenge, I’m sharing my recipe for a White Bean Pesto Stew. This is a delicious stew for the whole family, even if no one is participating in the unprocessed challenge. I’ve always made my white bean stews with rosemary and garlic, but the fresh pesto (no cheese!) in this version brought a totally different flavor profile. Fresh basil is the key in this recipe – don’t substitute. The stew is hearty, flavorful, and makes for fantastic leftovers!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 pound, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
- 4-5 small red potatoes, quartered
- 3 15 oz. cans Cannellini Beans or Navy Beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 cups water
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- For the pesto:
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- 2 fresh garlic cloves
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper the chicken generously. In a large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, give it a quick stir, then add the chicken, spreading the chunks out so that they are evenly on the bottom of the pot so you can get a nice brown crust on the chicken chunks.
- Cook the chicken, onion, and garlic for 4-5 minutes, then add the potatoes and mix everything together. Don’t worry if a brown crust forms at the bottom of the pan. We want all that yummy flavor!
- Add the drained beans and red pepper flakes if using, and mix again.
- Turn the heat to high, add the 6 cups of water, and deglaze the bottom of the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer everything together.
- Meanwhile, while the water is coming to a boil and simmering, add the basil, garlic, and pine nuts into the bowl of a food processor. Process, starting with pulses, until everything is coarsely chopped. Next, add the olive oil and process again until you get a smooth, green, puree.
- After about 12-15 minutes of simmering, or when the potatoes are soft and the chicken is tender, stir in 5-6 tablespoons of the fresh pesto into the stew. Start with 4 tablespoons, and add additional pesto to taste.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Enjoy!!!
I know this would be great with crusty, chewy, bread, but since refined flours don’t pass the unprocessed test, I added a few extra potatoes and enjoyed the stew as-is. If I weren’t starving, I would’ve paired this with a light salad.
It’s only Day 5 of the challenge and we’ve got 26 more days to go! I am pumped at all the unprocessed recipes from this week’s Sunday Supper group. There are a lot of recipes here to keep us going for the rest of the month. An extra thank you to Foodie Stuntman of Crazy Foodie Stunts for hosting this week’s unprocessed event!
Alluring Appetizers and Stunning Sides
- Brioche Dinner Rolls by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Stuffed Peppadew Peppers by An Appealing Plan
- Homemade Fennel-Maple Mustard by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Sweet Potato Noodles & Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
- Whole Grain, No-Knead Sourdough Bread by Peaceful Cooking
- Sweet Potato Fries by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Indian Spiced Dal and Sag Aloo by Happy Baking Days
- Homemade Energy Bars by The Foodie Army Wife
- Honey Thyme Chicken by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Sweet Potato and Carrot Hash by Fit Foodie Runs
- Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with Cardamom and Maple Syrup by Kudos Kitchen by Renee
- Spicy Smashed Fingerling Potatoes by Magnolia Days
- Autumn Panzanella by Crazy Foodie Stunts
- Black Bean and Corn Salsa by What Smells So Good?
- Curried Apple Chips by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Stuffed Acorn Squash by Rhubarb and Honey
- Homemade Hash Brown by Basic N Delicious
- Raw Salted Chocolate Chip Oat Healthy Bars by Wallflour Girl
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts by Peanut Butter and Peppers
- Basic Roasted Cauliflower by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Baked Beet Chips by The Dinner-Mom
- Crispy Tex-Mex Quinoa Patties by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Authentic Chicken Tinga by Shockingly Delicious
- Jacket Potato Party by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Mom’s Homemade Vegetarian Meatballs by The Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Chicken and Sweet Potato by MealDiva
- Chinese Five Spice Chicken Stir Fry by Nosh My Way
- Easy Slow Cooker Chili by Amee’s Savory Dish
- Coconut Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Dip by Casa de Crews
- Grilled Burgers with Garlicky Arugula by Cooking Chat
- Baked Zucchini with Spicy Tomatoes by Food Lust People Love
- Fall Squash Soup by Ruffles & Truffles
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes by Momma’s Meals
- White Bean Pesto Stew by eating in instead
- Seared Pork Stack by annaDishes
- Gnocchi with Peas and Pesto by Curious Cuisiniere
- Pumpkin & Sausage Pasta by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
- Raw Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake by Killer Bunnies, Inc
- Vegan Mini Chocolate Cream Cakes by NinjaBaking.com
- Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blondies by Pies and Plots
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