Rustic Beef Stew with Polenta and Green Beans

beef stew with polenta and green beans from Lesser Homes & Gardens

This is my new favorite cold weather stew. It has a great hearty texture and rich flavor. The recipe is adapted from the Rustic Italian Beef Stew recipe in the Pampered Chef Soups and Stews cookbook. I’ve made four recipes out of that cookbook and they have all been great so far! I’ve also included the accompaniments for the stew – polenta and pan cooked green beans.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Serves 6-8



1 1/2 large sweet onions

1 cup julienne sliced sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil

3/4 cup dry red wine

3 TBSP tomato paste

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups beef stock ( I use 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tsp Better Than Bouillon beef base)

2 TBSP olive oil

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1 TBSP finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 tsp chopped fresh garlic

3 1/2 pound beef pot roast, cut into 1 inch cubes


5 cups water

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal ( I like Golden Pheasant brand)

1 tsp salt

4 TBSP (1/2 stick) butter

1 cup fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese


1 pound fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed

1/2 large onion (leftover from stew ingredients) finely chopped

2-3 TBSP olive oil

2 tsp chopped fresh garlic

1/2 tsp kosher salt



  1.  Preheat oven to 350. Place chopped onions and drained sun-dried tomatoes into an enameled cast iron dutch oven or similar oven-proof lidded vessel.
  2. In a medium bowl combine wine, tomato paste and flour, whisking into well mixed. Add beef stock and whisk well, pour into  baking dish.
  3. Cut beef into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl.
  4. In a small dish combine olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Pour over beef and toss to combine. Add beef mixture to baking dish.
  5. Cook covered for one hour. Remove from oven, stir stew and return to oven. Cook an additional 2 hours or until beef is tender.
  6. During the last 30 minutes of cooking begin the side dishes. Wash and trim green beans. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute 5 minutes, until onions become translucent. Add garlic and green beans. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until green beans are tender and onions are slightly browned.
  7. While green beans are cooking start 5 cups of water to simmer for polenta. Add salt and whisk in cornmeal. Cook 4-5 minutes, whisking constantly until thick. Remove from heat. Add butter and cheese.
  8. Serve immediately. Place a spoonful of polenta on each plate, topped with stew and green beans along side. Enjoy!
beef stew with polenta and green beans from Lesser Homes & Gardens

The cookbook suggests baking in the Pampered Chef Deep Covered Baker. If you don’t have one, a cast iron Dutch oven will work fine.



Zucchini & Tomatoes

This is a super simple side dish using only a few ingredients. The canned tomatoes provide most of the seasonings and give it zesty Italian flavor in minutes. I like to use this as a quick side dish for barbecued steak or chicken. Enjoy!


4-5 small zucchini

1 can (14.5 oz.) Italian recipe stewed tomatoes

2 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp coarse ground garlic powder

salt & pepper to taste


  1. Slice zucchini into thin rounds, 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick.
  2. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat on medium-high.
  3. Cook zucchini several minutes until zucchini become tender. Season with garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Add canned tomatoes including liquid.
  5. Simmer until heated through and zucchini are fully cooked.

Meat Lasagna

Here is a very easy recipe for lasagna.  There’s nothing fancy here, just good home-made taste!

Now that I am doing menu planning I like to cook a double batch of whatever I’m making and put it in the freezer for future use.

Things like enchiladas, chile verde and lasagna make great freezer meals. I wrap the meal well and label with the date. Then take it out a couple of days ahead to thaw. Great for those busy days when you just don’t feel like cooking at night – and everyone still gets a home cooked meal instead of take out!

This recipe is for two full size lasagnas ( 9″ x 13″ casserole pans). You could make just one, but why make one lasagna when you can make two with the same amount of effort. All you need is an extra pan. I like to use disposable foil pans for the freezer so my regular casserole dishes are available for other things.

This is an extra-meaty lasagna because I had thawed a large package of ground beef.  You could easily cut the beef down to 2 lbs and still have enough for two lasagnas.


16 dry lasagna noodles (one package)

3 lbs ground beef

1 TBSP coarse ground garlic powder

1 TBSP Italian Seasoning

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 extra large container of spaghetti sauce (about 3 regular size jars)

2 15 oz containers of ricotta cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup grated parmesan or Roman cheese

2 TBSP dried parsley

6 cups grated mozzarella cheese


Here’s how to put it all together:

1. Brown the ground beef over medium heat. Add Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Drain excess fat.

2. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.

Extra meaty sauce!

3. Meanwhile, boil water and cook noodles according to package instructions.

4. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, egg, parm or Romano and dried parsley

The ricotta cheese mix. Use fresh parsley if you have it on hand.

5. Drain noodles. Remove meat sauce from heat.

6. Begin layering by putting a small amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Just enough to keep the noodles from sticking.

7. Place 3-4 noodles in the bottom of the pan, overlapping a little is good. (Do each step for both pans if you are doing two lasagnas)

Smear a little sauce in the bottom of the pan (right) then layer noodles (left).

8. Spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese mix over the noodles.

Spreading the ricotta can be tricky–just go slowly.

9. Next a layer of meat sauce.

Layer with a generous amount of meat sauce.

10. Then a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Mozzarella on top. Then repeat layers.

11. Repeat steps 7-10 for second layer. Top with additional grated parm or Romano. Cook uncovered at 375° F for 30-40 minutes.

The extra lasagna should be wrapped tightly in foil before placing in the freezer. Be sure the label it with the date.

To use frozen lasagna remove from freezer one day prior to thaw and bake with foil loosely covered for 45 minutes, removing cover after 30 minutes. To bake from frozen cook at 375° for approximately an hour, or until center is heated to 160° when check with a food thermometer.