If you like Mediterranean foods as much as I do, I am certain that you will love this easily prepared Mediterranean Beef Stew. It is a one-pot meal, complete on its own, with cubes of beef, simmered until meltingly tender, in a rich tomato sauce with fresh vegetables and herbs.
Why we love this recipe:
My Mediterranean Beef Stew is made using a less expensive cut of meat which requires long, slow cooking to tenderise the beef and extract the maximum flavour. Not only are long-simmered stews satisfying to eat, they also are easy to make.
You can make this meal in advance. In fact, this is one meal which improves if made a day or two in advance. It gives the flavours time to fully harmonise and develop complexity.
This is a great meal to freeze; make a large batch and store containers in the freezer for days when you need an easy meal.
This is pure comfort food which will warm and satisfy you. I often serve it simply with some crusty bread for mopping up the flavour-filled juices. Alternatively, if you prefer a hot side dish, serve it with rice, pasta, polenta, mashed potato or my Semolina Gnocchi.
Ingredients in this recipe:
Please see the recipe card further along in the post for exact quantities of ingredients and the full method.
Stewing/braising beef – use a cut of meat which is suited to long, slow cooking, such as chuck steak or boneless shin/shank/gravy beef.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – for seasoning.
Olive oil – my preference is olive oil as it is an integral ingredient in the much-acclaimed Mediterranean diet.
Brown/yellow onion and garlic– a base flavour ingredient.
Crushed tinned tomatoes – use whole tinned tomatoes and crush them yourself if you prefer.
Beef stock – to reinforce the beef flavour. Use homemade or a good quality commercial stock.
Fresh rosemary – a fragrant, woody herb.
Chilli flakes – to add some spice – optional.
Zucchini/courgette – a member of the squash family.
Red capsicum/bell peppers – Red peppers are sweeter than green and I like the red colour they provide.
Kalamata olives – for easy eating, buy them pitted or pit them yourself.
Fresh parsley – my preference is the flat leaf continental variety.
Step by step instructions:
Brown the seasoned, cubed meat in a Dutch Oven or heavy based saucepan which has a lid. This is important as it caramelises the surface of the meat, giving it an appetising colour and a wonderful depth of flavour.
After browning the meat, remove it to a bowl or plate and set it aside. Add the onion to the saucepan and cook for a short time and then add the garlic. Stir and cook for about 1 minute.
Next, return the meat to the pan, add the tinned tomatoes, beef stock and rosemary. Stir them together and cook slowly for about 90 minutes.
When the meat is almost deliciously tender, add the zucchini and capsicum and cook an extra 30 minutes.
Add the olives and parsley, check that the seasoning is to your taste, and your delicious Mediterranean Beef Stew is ready to enjoy.
Tips for success and FAQs:
This Mediterranean Beef Stew is a very simple dish to prepare, but we have some tips that will help you get the best result!
Firstly, skip the expensive cuts of meat. For long, slow cooking, choose a cut such as chuck steak or boneless shin/shank/gravy beef. Lean meats do not suit this method of cookery; they will become tough and dry.
After you have selected a suitable beef to stew, it is important to not try and hurry the dish. It is essential to let the stew cook slowly for a long time so that the collagen, connective tissue and fats break down, making the meat juicy and tender, and creating a rich flavour.
Yes! Browning your meat is the first step toward creating full, rich flavour as the heat browns and caramelises the exterior of the cubed meat. You will need to do this in batches. If you attempt to rush the process and put a lot of meat in the pan at once it will simmer in its own juice and not caramelise.
If you add the vegetables at the same time as the meat, they will be completely mushy by the time the meat becomes tender. Cook the meat until it is almost perfectly tender, then add the vegetables. This way they will retain their texture and their colour. Woody herbs, such as the rosemary in this recipe, are best added early in the cooking process to extract maximum flavour. Soft herbs, such as the parsley, are added toward the end of cooking to retain their bright flavour. I also like to add some as a final garnish.
Yes, you can make this meal in advance. In fact, this is one meal which will improve if made a day or two ahead. It gives the flavours time to fully harmonise and develop complexity. Once cool, store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Yes, store it in the freezer for up to three months in an airtight, freezer-safe container, clearly labelled with the name and date. It can be difficult to identify frozen items if they are not labelled.
More delicious recipes for you to try:
After some more tasty and warming comfort foods? We love these dishes also:
- Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Shells
- Eggplant Involtini
- Roasted Cherry Tomato Pasta
- The Perfect Roast Chicken
- Pumpkin, Ricotta and Sage Pasta Shells
This Mediterranean Beef Stew is a versatile dish. It’s a great make-ahead meal, ideal to take to a potluck or serve when entertaining friends, be it a large or small gathering. However, it is simple enough to be enjoyed by the family on a weeknight.
From the inviting aroma to the robust flavour, this Beef Stew carries the promise of comfort and warmth. It is, simply, wonderful, old-style comfort food. If you like Mediterranean foods as much as I do, I am certain that you will love this easily prepared Beef Stew. This is food which will warm and satisfy you. Serve it simply with some crusty bread for mopping up the juices. Alternatively, serve it with rice, pasta, polenta, mashed potato or Semolina Gnocchi.
This post was originally published in March 2019. It has been updated with new photos and more information. The recipe remains the same.
Mediterranean Beef Stew
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) stewing beef See Note 1
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil See Notes 2 and 3
- 1 large brown/yellow onion – cut into small cubes
- 4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
- 800 g (28 ounces) crushed tinned tomatoes
- 1 cup (250 ml) beef stock See Note 4
- 3 tsp fresh rosemary – finely chopped finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes – optional
- 2 large zucchini/courgette cut into slices 1 cm (1/3″) wide
- 2 large red capsicum/bell peppers cut into 2 ½ cm (1”) squares
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives – pitted
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley – roughly chopped divided
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- pasta/noodles, mashed potato, rice or a green salad.
- Cut your meat into cut into 3 ½ cm (1 ¼ " cubes) or buy pre-cut meat.
- Pat the cubed meat dry with paper towels. This will help the meat to form a nice brown crust when seared.Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil, over high heat, in a large, heavy-based Dutch Oven or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. The oil should not smoke. You will notice that the oil is hot and ready to use when it begins to shimmer.
- Add 1/3 of the beef to the pan. Brown the meat for several minutes on all sides. See Note 5.
- Remove the meat to a plate and set it aside. Repeat with the remaining beef, adding more oil if necessary.
- Turn the heat down to low. Add a little extra oil if necessary.Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook a further minute and stir again to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Return the cooked beef, including any juices, to the pan.Add the tomatoes, beef stock, rosemary and chilli flakes (if using). Stir well.
- Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the meat is almost at perfect tenderness. Stir occasionally.
- Add the zucchini and capsicum, stir well and cover again. Cook for 30 minutes. Stir halfway through and add a little more water if necessary.
- Add the olives and 2 tablespoons of parsley. See Note 6.Check the seasoning, adding additional salt, pepper or chilli flakes to taste.
- Turn into a serving dish or serve, family-style, at the table in the pan in which it was cooked.Add some extra parsley just before serving.Serve with rice, mashed potato, crusty bread or buttered noodles. See Note 7
- For long, slow cooking, choose a cut such as chuck steak or boneless shin/shank/gravy beef. Lean meats do not suit this method of cookery; they will become tough and dry.
- Start cooking the beef with 2 tablespoons of oil and add extra if you need it to finish cooking the beef or when adding the onion.
- The Australian tablespoon is 20 ml or 4 teaspoons. In many countries, the tablespoon is 15 ml or 3 teaspoons. Please adjust the recipe accordingly if necessary.
- You can use homemade or good quality beef stock. If you don’t have beef stock, you can use chicken stock. The flavour will not be quite as robust but your dish will not taste like chicken.
- It is important to not “play” with the meat. If you try to turn it too soon it will stick to the pan. It will turn easily when it has formed a brown crust. This is an exercise which requires patience. If moved too much, the meat will release its juices and steam rather than fry. Browning the beef gives the meat an appetizing colour and adds tremendous depth of flavour.
- To obtain maximum flavour and freshness of the parsley, add it at the end of cooking.
- For buttered noodles, boil the pasta of your choice until it is al dente, toss in a bowl with some butter, salt, pepper and chopped parsley.
- Please note, the nutritional information is based on this dish serving six people. It does not include what the dish is served with. The nutritional information is an estimate only.