Southern Rio Stew

The flavors of this southwestern dish are warm, rich, and inviting -- cubes of butternut squash are first roasted, then simmered in a stew of tomatoes, chilies, mushrooms, sweet peppers, and horniny. Ancho chilies can vary from mild to fiery, so be sure to taste them before adding to the stew. Serve with creamy soft polenta or basmati rice tossed with toasted pumpkin seeds. In the summer, you can include fresh corn or substitute it for the horniny. If canned tomatoes are particularly acidic, add a pinch of sugar during the initial cooking time. You can also add a few pinches of sugar to balance the flavors if the stew seems acidic after the final cooking.

Author:Field of Greens, pg. 196
Category:Main Courses


1 small butternut squash
2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (about 3 cups, or 28-oz can tomatoes with juice, chopped)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin seed
3/4 lb. white mushrooms, cut in half or left whole in small, (about 4 cups)
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2" pieces (about 2 cups)
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into thick strips and then triangles (about 1 cup)
2 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/2" slices on a diagonal (about 2 cups)
1 cups canned hominy, drained and rinsed, or 1 ear of corn, shaved (about 1 cup kernels)
1/2 tsp. Chipotle Puree (pg 332)
1-2 tbsp. Ancho Chile Puree (Field of Greens pg197)
1 tbsp. crème fraîche
2 tbsp. cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the squash with 1/2 tbsp of the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in a covered dish until just tender, about 10 minutes. (The squash should still be firm so it holds its shape while it cooks with the stew.) If you're using canned tomatoes, cook them for 20 minutes in a medium-size saucepan over low heat with 1/2 tsp each of the cinnamon and cumin. The extra cooking time will reduce their acidity.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large skillet. Sear the mushrooms over high heat with 1/2 tsp salt and a few pinches of pepper, until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same skillet. Add the onion, 1/2 tsp salt, and the remaining cinnamon and cumin. Sauté over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and peppers; sauté until peppers are almost tender, about 10 minutes, then add the zucchini and 1/4 tsp salt. Sauté just long enough to heat the zucchini through, then add the tomatoes. (If you're using fresh tomatoes, add the cinnamon and cumin now.) Add the mushroom, butternut squash, hominy, and chili purees. Cover and stew over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the crème fraîche, if using it. Add the cilantro and mint just before serving.