My famous no-packaging vegetable stew formula, take 1

December 28, 2018 by Joshua
in Blog

After making my famous no-packaging vegetable stews for friends who hosted me across the country, one friend’s mom emailed me: “Hi Josh, My son says you make an awesome vegetable stew with seasonal produce. Is there a formula for it?”

fresh vegetables from the farm

One of my main goals is to make cooking delicious, economical, healthy food available to everyone, so I’m happy to share. I wrote the following:

(EDIT: she acted on the email. Read about her first stew here.)


Glad to hear from you and I believe I do make a mean no-packaging vegetable stew.

I’m glad you asked if there is a formula and not a recipe since I do follow more of a formula than a specific recipe. Things change with the seasons. I haven’t tried to spell out the formula for others to follow, but I’ll do my best. If you’re near New York, I host people to show them in person all the time and would be happy to host.

It’s easier and more fun in practice than it looks from the number of words below. I can usually feed 5 – 10 people with about $10 to $20 worth of food and 20 minutes prep time.

In the meantime, here’s a video of me making a stew. Here’s another recent video cooking for a listener (whose podcast I’ve been a guest on) who told me she was visiting New York with her daughter so I invited them over to avoid another disappointing restaurant meal. I use a pressure cooker (I use this one, which is a lower price than I paid for mine) and four main ingredients plus water, the proportions of which change with season, mood, etc:

  1. Dried legumes
  2. A green, leafy vegetable
  3. A starchy vegetable
  4. Nutritional yeast

I’ve used probably dozens of varieties of the first three, so I’ve never had the same stew twice. The variety this formula creates is through the roof. Legumes can be red beans, black beans, Lima beans, green lentils, French lentils, split peas, or whatever is on sale. The vegetable can be kale, collards, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, beet greens, carrot greens, etc. The starchy vegetable can be carrots, sweet potato, any squash (including the skin), potato, beets, zucchini, parsnips, etc.

I buy the legumes and nutritional yeast in bulk, bringing bags or containers to the store so I don’t use new ones, including for the legumes and yeast themselves. I typically have a few pounds of various legumes in my cupboards. I buy the vegetables at the farmers markets, again bringing bags so I don’t have to accept new ones.

In the video I combine several of each ingredients. I recommend starting with one of each. For example, today I’m making a stew with split peas (legume), Brussels sprouts (leafy vegetable), and carnival squash (starchy vegetable). I removed the squash seeds to toast and dice the rest. The sprouts I cut so any piece will fit in a spoon after cooking

I’m not sure the amounts of each since I do it by eye. I guess I’ll put in around 2 cups of dry split peas, one squash (a little bigger than a softball), and enough Brussels sprouts to nearly fill the 6-quart pressure cooker pot.

Water and time depend on the legume and the pressure cooker, so follow its instructions, but I find 2:1 water to legume for split peas and lentils and 5 minutes cooking time. 1:1 water to legume for most other beans. Black beans cook for 10 minutes, all others 8 minutes.

After it cooks, I put about 2 cups of nutritional yeast for a full pressure cooker container. If you like spice, I then put in jalapeños, habaneros, ginger, turmeric, sage, or whatever I feel like putting in that’s in season. Subtle flavors like basil get drowned out so I don’t use them. Salt to taste


I forgot to mention toppings. The stew comes out hot and stewy. Crispy toppings make it come alive. There’s also no fat in it. So my go to toppings are crisp onions and nuts, of which there are many varieties.

Any other crispy toppings work: peppers (I prefer red), cucumber, turnips, radishes, celery, etc, even fruit. But always onions, and you have to put on about 3 times what you think. Trust me. No one has ever put enough on themselves. Everyone looks shocked at what I put on for them, but everyone always agrees a lot of onions are perfect and something about the stew makes them not mess up your breath

Besides nuts, avocados are amazing, but I can’t find them in farmers markets in New York. I bet olives and capers would be good.


Darn that looks like a lot of words. I hope it doesn’t sound complicated. After you do it once or twice, it’s easy and it makes going to farmers markets fun and exciting.

I hope that helps. I’m happy to answer questions, but the best way to learn is to see it in person,


(EDIT: she acted on the email. Read about her first stew here.)

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4 responses on “My famous no-packaging vegetable stew formula, take 1

  1. Pingback: My famous no-packaging vegetable stew formula, take 2 | Joshua Spodek

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  3. Pingback: Reviews of my famous no-packaging no-recipe vegetable stews » Joshua Spodek

  4. Pingback: How to transform my famous no-packaging vegan stew into restaurant food » Joshua Spodek

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