I don't speak Spanish. So my first exposure to the word manzana was on a trip to Mexico some years back when I discovered the delightful Manzana Lift, a carbonated apple soda manufactured by Coca-Cola. I drank it constantly while I was there, and on returning to the States, promptly started e-mailing Coca-Cola to see why it wasn't available here. I actually got a message back, stating that there wasn't sufficient demand to justify its distribution here, which just seems silly to me. After all, you have however many million people of Mexican descent in this country, yet only 50-odd thousand in Greenland. Greenland gets Coca-Cola, but we don't get Manzana Lift...what gives?
I digress. My point was that due to my positive association with Manzana Lift, I have always been drawn to the word manzana, so the Manzana Chili Verde recipe (p. 171) immediately caught my eye.
It's essentially a white bean and potato chili with tomatillos, poblano peppers, and apples. It's quick and easy to prepare, and has become one of my favorite recipes from the Veganomicon; I've made it a number of times.
So the method is this -- you cut up some potatoes and set them boiling in a pot of water to tenderize. While this is going on, you saute some onions, jalapenos, and your cut up poblanos together. T&I tell you that you can use green bell peppers in place of poblanos if you have to, and it might work, but I'd really work to get the poblanos instead. They're a mild pepper that lacks the bitterness green bell peppers would have.
So once all that is soft, you add some garlic and herbs, then shortly thereafter, some white wine and tomatillos. The recipe calls for fresh tomatillos, and it is better this way, but I've used canned tomatillos, too, with excellent results, so if you can't find fresh, you'll still be fine.
Then you add two sliced granny smith apples, which add a nice layer of sweet-tartness, scallions, and vegetable stock, along with plenty of cilantro, and let it simmer for a while. Then take out your immersion blender and puree it till it's just a little chunky.
Then toss in the potatoes and a can of white beans and heat for a couple more minutes till everything is nice and hot. Then just add some more cilantro and lime juice, and serve it with sliced avocado.
Don't skip the avocado! This stew is plenty good without it, but avocado adds a nice creamy texture that just makes this super-awesome. Obviously don't bother if you can't get ripe avocados, but if you can...oh man. No one will care that this is vegan. They won't even notice.