Mirepoix is the French name for a combination of onions, carrots, and celery, typically in a 2:1:1 ratio. Mirepoix, either raw, roasted or sautéed with butter, is the flavor base for a wide number of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics. The Italian version is called soffritto (not to be confused with the Spanish sofrito (a mix of garlic, onions and tomatoes cooked in olive oil that forms the foundation of many dishes)). Unlike a mirepoix, a soffritto is cooked in olive oil and may also contain garlic, fennel, leek, herbs and/or celery leaves. It depends on what the cook has on hand in his or her pantry.
If you can’t find lamb’s quarters in your local farmer’s market, substitute spinach or chard instead.
The best part about this stew is that it reheats beautifully and tastes even better the next day. Leftovers are especially wonderful, served over thin spaghetti or linguine. A little extra-virgin olive oil transforms each platter into something special.
Stewed squid with lamb’s quarters (wild spinach)
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1 bunch lamb’s quarters OR 1 bunch Swiss chard, trimmed
1 clove garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small to medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, trimmed and chopped
2 T. celery leaves, chopped
2 T. parsley, chopped + more for garnish
1 lb. squid, cleaned, trimmed and sliced thinly
freshly milled black pepper
1 cup white wine
1 T. tomato paste
2 springs fresh rosemary OR 1 pinch red pepper flakes
extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a pot of water (about 1/2 cup) to a roiling boil. Add lamb’s quarters or chard. Simmer until leaves are cooked through. Remove from heat, then immediately shock in ice water. Drain. Squeeze out as much water as possible, then coarsely chop. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add garlic, onion, celery, carrot, celery leaves and 2 T. parsley, along with a small pinch of salt. Sauté until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add squid to the pan, then raise heat to high. Sear squid, making sure to stir to keep it from sticking to the pan, about 1 to 2 minutes. Deglaze with wine, then lower heat to moderate-low. Stir in tomato paste, add rosemary or red pepper flakes; check seasoning. Cook, partially covered for 10 to 15 minutes, or until squid becomes tender.
Remove from heat, stir in lamb’s quarters or chard. Taste for salt if necessary. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, drizzle a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, then serve at once.