Potaje (pronounced po-TAH-hay) is a delicious multi vegetable stew very typical of the Canary Islands. Here, rather than have all the food served at once, meals are served in courses. Generally a first course, which can be either a soup, stew, salad, or pasta and is then followed by the main course and of course following that, dessert and coffee. Many restaurants in Spain offer a lunch “menu,” where you can choose a first and second course from the day’s specials, and it comes with a beverage and dessert. I’m pretty sure that the variety of potajes are as varied as the chefs that prepare them. There are lentil potajes, watercress potajes (look for this one soon), corn potaje…the limit is your own creativity, much like soups and stews everywhere else in the world. Let me share with you my mil’s recipe for Potaje Canario….
*note, add or subract at your preference, the amounts are approximate.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon smokey paprika
2 ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced
1 onion, diced
a few sprigs of thyme
1-2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cob corn, broken in two pieces
3 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 large handful green beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 large handful of fresh pinto beans, shucked (you can also use canned)
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 of a sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 chunk of pumpkin, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 thick slice of bacon, sliced (omit for vegan/vegetarian)
enough broth to generously cover vegetables (I used about 3 1/2 quarts I’d guess?)
In a large stockpot (this makes a LOT!), heat olive oil and saute garlic just until golden.
Add tomatoes, onions, paprika, thyme and bay, then season with salt and pepper.
Saute until vegetables are tender (this is called the “refrito.”)
Add remaining ingredients and generously cover with stock.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 30 minutes.
Remove lid and simmer another hour or so, until the stew begins to thicken.
Serve with Queso Fresco and nice crispy baguettes.