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Summer Vegetable Goulash

Summer Vegetable Goulash
A couple of weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she'd been trying to make a good vegetarian version of goulash, but she hadn't gotten it quite right yet. I made a few suggestions for when she was ready to try again, and then went back to business as usual. Or not. The thought of a vegetarian goulash niggled at the back of my mind for a solid week, until I decided I needed to make some in my own kitchen.

It's funny though, because at first I thought - vegetarian goulash!? The thought was basically an oxymoron in my mind. I mean, I grew up in the Midwest, and in these parts, hearty stews and casseroles always had meat in them. When I thought goulash, I thought ground beef in a paprika-spiked tomato base over noodles that was "lightened" up by stirring through a big scoop of sour cream...and then finished with melty cheese.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try a meatless version. With the abundance of summer vegetables in evidence on my kitchen counter and table, as well as dotting the road with stands every few miles, now was definitely the time to do it.

Summer Vegetable Goulash
Even better is that I've been looking for the perfect warm weather recipe for featuring my beautiful new All-Clad 6-qt slow cooker. I made a couple of hearty braises in it before the oppressive heat began dictating the meals that would come out of my air conditioner-less kitchen. But a summer stew was just the thing to put it back to use this month.

I should tell you that yes, I received this pot for free. I'm not required to rave about it, but I will because I've loved All-Clad pots and pans since the very first time I used one over 15 years ago. Without a doubt, they are my favorite brand for stainless steel, and that's because I used them throughout culinary school and my apprenticeship (not to mention the restaurants I worked in afterwards).

It's my goal to have an entire collection, though my bank account fights me on that. But I will continue to pick up a piece here and there and revel in the magic they work.
Summer Vegetable Goulash
Back to goulash sans meat. This hearty goulash actually wound up being vegan. It's packed with zucchini, yellow summer squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes, but the addition of lentils helps add some body, as well as nutrients. I also felt that it needed elbow macaroni to truly resemble goulash (in my mind), and it really did seal the deal for me.

In the end, I really did enjoy this hearty vegan stew; it was the perfect pot of summer comfort food. But I do look forward to using my All-Clad slow cooker again for a classic meaty version, heavy with sour cream and cheese, once the air turns cold again.

Summer Vegetable Goulash
This hearty vegan goulash recipe is loaded with summer vegetables, lentils, and pasta. It satisfies even without the meat!
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Summer Vegetable Goulash
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: simmer entree vegan dairy-free nut-free soy-free zucchini summer squash basil lentils pasta summer

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
  • 1 cup dry brown lentils, picked and rinsed
  • 4 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Harissa paste, optional
  • 1 extra large zucchini, chopped into 1/2" pieces (~4 cups)
  • 1 extra large yellow summer squash, chopped into 1/2" pieces (~4 cups)
  • 6 large Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin ribbons) + more to garnish
Brings 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add lentils, cover, and lower to a steady simmer. Cook until just tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Cook elbow macaroni to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain, rinse under cool water to keep from sticking, and set aside.

Set a 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add oil. After 20 seconds, add onion, garlic, carrot, and bell pepper; cook until the veggies start to soften, stirring often, 5-7 minutes.

Sprinkle the smoked paprika over the vegetables and add Harissa, if using; stir for 30 seconds. Add zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, salt and pepper, reserved lentils, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a steady simmer for 12-15 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and squash is tender. Stir in the reserved elbow noodles and allow to cook for another minute until heated through.

Remove from heat and stir in the basil. Taste and adjust seasoning, as necessary. Serve as is, garnished with a little more basil.

  • When serving, you could add a dollop of sour cream to warm goulash and stir through, then sprinkle with some shredded sharp cheddar cheese—use vegan substitutes if you need to keep it vegan! Just pass condiments separately at the table for people to add to their own serving, if desired.
Summer Vegetable Goulash
Featured in this post 
All-Clad d7 6 Qt. Slow Cooker ($299.95), sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma: Classic stovetop slow-cooking achieves state-of-the-art efficiency with All-Clad's innovative pot. Representing the best in American craftsmanship, it relies on seven-layer bonded construction, offering doubly uniform heat conduction with 25% less weight than cast iron. Count on this kitchen-to-table cooker for everything from tender pot roast to hearty stews and braises.

I received this pot at no charge; I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.