Melungeon Stew

Melungeon Stew

The aroma of this stew fills my childhood memories of New Year’s Day in a snow-covered shack somewhere in Kentucky.  It turns out that the recipe translates well to whole plant foods.

Nestled in the heart of Appalachian cuisine is the Melungeon Stew, a dish rich in the region’s culinary history. I have reimagined this dish by focusing on traditional whole plant foods while staying true to its flavor and celebratory nature.

The Appalachian region, known for its diverse and fertile landscapes, has a long history of farming and foraging that has shaped its food culture. Corn, beans, and tomatoes were likely to all be growing in the family garden.  As for the greens, my dad and his brothers would often look for wild “pokeweed” as their preferred ingredient.  I have yet to find it at Trader Joe’s.

Melungeon Stew

December 18, 2023
: 6-8
: 15 min
: 20 min
: 35 min
: Easy

A heartwarming and nutritious stew, inspired by Appalachian traditions, this Melungeon Stew is a delightful blend of whole plant foods. It's perfect for any time of the year, providing a rich array of nutrients from black-eyed peas, greens, and corn. This vegan version omits traditional bacon, instead using tamari and liquid smoke for depth of flavor.

  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Kale or Collard Greens, chopped
  • 4 Cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 4 Large Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 (12 oz) Jars Fire Roasted Red Peppers, drained
  • 4 Cans Black-Eyed Peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Cups Frozen Corn Kernels
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Basil
  • 2 Teaspoons Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Tamari (adjust to taste)
  • Step 1 In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic in water until the onions soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Step 2 Add the chopped greens and continue to sauté until they reduce and soften, approximately 3 minutes.
  • Step 3 In a blender, puree 2 cans of black-eyed peas with 2 cups of vegetable broth and the roasted red peppers to create a thick, rich texture.
  • Step 4 Combine the blended mixture with the sautéed ingredients in the pot.
  • Step 5 Add the remaining 2 cans of black-eyed peas, chopped tomatoes, corn, basil, liquid smoke, and tamari.
  • Step 6 Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.
  • Step 7 Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more tamari if a saltier flavor is desired.

Nutritional Label (per serving):

  • Calories: 210
  • Total Fat: 1g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 450mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Dietary Fiber: 9g
  • Total Sugars: 7g
  • Protein: 12g
  • Vitamin D: 0mcg
  • Calcium: 60mg
  • Iron: 3mg
  • Potassium: 750mg

This wholesome stew is a flavorful and nutritious choice, perfect for sharing with family and friends. Enjoy the rich blend of whole plant foods such as legumes, greens, and spices in this plant-based delicacy!