Meat Soups

Mediterranean Beef Stew with Green Olive Pesto

Beef stew, also known as beef bourguignon, is good, but boring–and we personally think it tastes like straight up sour wine and that is not very tasty, especially by the spoonful. So we’ve added a bit of balsamic vinegar and raisins to counter the sour with a bit of sweet. We’re also swirling in a nice, briny, herbal pesto to brighten up the braise. Another change, we’re not using a crock pot! The dutch oven allows liquid to evaporate from the pot, thus creating a thicker, more intense flavored stew. And heck, I would rather eat in 2 hours than in 6 hours, agreed?


  • 2 T fat of your choice
  • 2 lb. chuck shoulder, cubed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 c raisins
  • (1) 28 oz. can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c red wine
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lemon, sliced and seeds removed
  • S&P

For the Pesto

  • 1 handful of basil leaves
  • 1/2 handful of mint leaves
  • 1/2 c green olives (about 20)
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

In a dutch oven melt your fat. Salt and pepper the cubed chuck pieces, add them to the pot and let them brown on each side. Don’t fidget with them or remove them until you see a visible brown crust on the meat. Remove and reserve on a plate.  To the pot, add the onion, garlic and carrot. Let them sweat and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the meat back to the pot, along with the tomatoes, raisins, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine. Top with sliced lemons.

Lay a piece of parchment paper of the the top of the pot and press it down into the pot. Place in the oven and braise for 2 hours. Taste the meat, it should be super tender, if it’s not give it another half hour or so.

Once you’re about 10 minutes from the stew finishing; combine all the ingredients for the pesto in a mini food processor. Pulse until everything has come together.

When the stew is out of the oven, take the lemon rinds out, but leave in the flesh…it’ll separate very easily. Swirl in the pesto and serve.

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  • Reply
    February 7, 2011 at 2:02 am

    I can’t believe that I’m the first to comment on this. I have to say, as an Irish girl, I feel strongly that potatoes belong in beef stew. That being said, I really enjoyed this potato-less stew! The meat was tender and flavorful, the sauce was rich, the pesto gave a tart counter-point to the richness of the stew. I should say that I didn’t use raisins, it was a little too far away from the irish stew standard i’m used to, but maybe next time. I also made the meat and refrigerated. Then, I reheated the stew and added the pesto. I should also say that the stew was beyond delicious the day I made it, and also the next day when I added the pesto, but it developed a weird aftertaste within the next two days. I think maybe the mint? Not sure. But if you plan to eat it the first day, it is awesome!

  • Reply
    May 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Delicious! Note to self: Make MORE this week so there are leftovers!Thanks Megan!

  • Reply
    December 2, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I know that this recipe is for a dutch oven, but wondering if this can be made in a slow cooker?

    • Reply
      megan keatley
      December 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

      oh yeah, for sure

      • Reply
        December 27, 2011 at 8:35 pm

        So…for a crock-pot newcomer, are there any ingredients (besides the pesto) that you’d add late in the cooking process? Would this go about 8 hours on low, do you think?

        • Reply
          megan keatley
          December 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

          i don’t believe so. and i feel 8 hours of low should definitely do the trick.

          • Ululani
            December 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm

            It was great! 6.5 hours on low was perfect. It was plenty thick and rich enough and the grass-fed beef was quite tender. I used some olive tapenade leftover from a holiday party, in lieu of the green olives and it was very tasty. I actually made the pesto yesterday and topped some grilled fish with it – excellent!

          • megan keatley
            January 3, 2012 at 10:37 am

            wonderful. glad you enjoyed ululani!

          • Pam
            October 3, 2012 at 7:56 am

            Should you still brown the meat first and sauté the veggies or just throw everything in the crock pot?

  • Reply
    Nathan Averill
    February 3, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Very accurate description. Extremely intense and robust flavor. Unlike any beef stew I’ve ever tried. My wife is not a fan of olives but I thought the olive pesto added a nice touch to a very easy to make recipe. Love the site!

  • Reply
    February 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    We had this tonight and I just wanted to compliment you on an amazing recipe. I had doubts about a stew that didn’t contain potatoes, but seriously….best stew ever.
    I didn’t have the ingredients for the pesto, so we topped ours with a big blob of spicy guacamole, which I can highly recommend also.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    WOW, we really enjoyed this recipe and will definitely make it again. I normally don’t care for olives, but loved this dish. Thanks!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I’ve made this dish twice and each time it was delicious – tasting even better the second day. I used sirloin instead of chuck shoulder for extra tenderness. MMMmmmmmmmm

  • Reply
    August 25, 2013 at 6:46 am

    Lovely recipe, made a few changes due to the lack of ingredients in my pantry. Meat is lovely & tender, sauce rich & thick. My belly thanks you in advance.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    This sounds delightful and is the kind of beef dish I tend to really like. Can’t wait to try it!

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