Dec 28, 2012

Winter Cooking: Vegetable and Sausage Stew and Qeema Casserole

by Um-e-Usman


Winter is here. The days are getting shorter. During all the commotion of daily life, we wonder “Whew!! Where did the time go?!” And then we realize the dinner still has to be made. In wintertime, everybody loves something warm and moms always love some time on their hands. So ladies, take out that slow cooker that has been sitting on the shelf for quite a while and treat yourself to a pedicure while your cooker does the work for you. If you do not have one, not to worry. A regular pot will work too.

Vegetable and Sausage Stew 

The best part of this stew is that it  can be customized. It is healthy, nutritious and easy to make.

Serves 5 people


Celery: 2 sticks (chopped)

Long squash (“lauki” in Urdu): 1 cup chopped

Brussels sprouts: 1 cup sliced

Asparagus: 3 sticks chopped

Broccoli: 1 cup cut into small florets

Capsicum: ½ cup diced

Onions: ½ cup diced

Tomatoes: ½ cup diced

Mushrooms: 1-1/2 cups sliced

Beans (black and/or red): 1 can drained

Carrots: 1 cup diced or 1 small package baby carrots

Sausages (hot dog franks): 6

Salt as per taste

Chili powder: ½ tsp

Turmeric: ¼ tsp

Water enough to submerge everything (for a pot)


Chop one sausage into small pieces and keep it aside. Wash and cut/chop all of the vegetables and remaining sausages and mix the spices with water. Turn the heat on high and let everything boil for a minute. Turn the heat to low and let it cook for 6 to 8 hours for all the flavors to mix in with each other. Check occasionally, stirring gently. Add water if necessary.

Before serving, sprinkle a little Italian seasoning and coriander for extra flavor. Stir-fry the chopped hot dog. For those picky eaters, garnish with a little cheese and top it all with stir-fry sausage bits.

You can also make this stew with lentils and whatever veggies you have in the refrigerator. 


Qeema Casserole 

This is a very filling and hearty recipe. Again, it can be customized to one’s liking and diet plans.


For qeema:

Qeema (Ground Beef): 1 lb.

Onions: 2 sliced

Tomatoes: 2 sliced

Ginger/garlic paste: 1 tbsp.

Salt as per taste

Red chili powder: ½ tsp

Turmeric: ½ tsp

Green chilies: 2-3 sliced

Oil for frying

Coriander for garnishing

For second layer:

Potatoes: 5-10 boiled

For white sauce:

Butter/margarine: 1 tbsp

All-purpose flour: 4-5 tbsps

Milk: ¼ cup

Water: 1 cup

Salt as per taste

Cheese: 1 tbsp (shredded)

Italian seasoning: a pinch

Cheese: 2 cups shredded


Add salt to the water. In a pot, boil the potatoes. Peel the skin after the potatoes are boiled and then mash them.

Heat oil and fry onions until they are light brown. Add ginger and garlic paste, sauté. Add the spices and fry for half a minute. Then, add the tomatoes while stirring. Add ¼ cup of water and turn down the heat to medium. Let everything cook together until the tomatoes are tender. Add the ground beef (qeema) and fry it all for a minute on high heat. Add the water, turn down the heat, cover the pot, and cook until tender. If your family likes a dry casserole, fry the ground beef until all the water is evaporated. If they like a gooey casserole, keep a little water in it. That is two layers completed!

White sauce:

Melt butter in a pot. Add all-purpose flour and stir it until it becomes light brown. Add milk and water while stirring constantly. Mix it until no lumps remain (use a hand blender for additional help). Add water to obtain a desired consistency (the mixture should drip like a thick stream from a spoon). Add cheese while stirring. Add the seasoning just before adding it to the casserole tray.

In an oven (broiler) safe dish, evenly spread the completed ground beef (qeema) on the bottom. Then, pour a little white sauce and spread it evenly throughout. Next, spread a generous layer of mashed potatoes. Then, pour the remaining mixture of white sauce and sprinkle the cheese to top it off. With the broiler on, put the dish in the oven. As soon as the cheese is melted and turns a little brown, it is all ready to serve and eat.

Now, the great thing about this casserole is it can also be kept as leftovers. Whatever you have left in the dish in the refrigerator, mix and heat it together to make one layer of it.

Ideas for customization:

Use bread crumbs instead of cheese for the lower fat option. This will still give it a cheesy brown look.

Add a layer of mushrooms. But first cook them just like the ground beef by adjusting the ingredients according to the weight of them. They lose a lot of water, so be sure to cook them properly. Add a layer of stir-fry vegetables instead of potatoes for a healthier and greener casserole. This is a fancier dish to serve guests, instead of mashed potatoes.

This casserole will definitely warm up a wintry night and it will light up the dinner table with happy faces inshaAllah. By the end of the day, all of our well fed moms are happy too! Happy cooking lovely readers and bon appetite!

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below!


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