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Aphrodisiacs in the Pantry (Recipe: beef stew)


Two years ago, in February, I discovered bookworms in my pantry.

This year, the pantry is filled with aphrodisiac foods.

What's a girl to do when she finds foods of love hiding on her spice rack, in the cupboards, even in the fridge and freezer? 

Cook with them, of course -- and that's what I've been doing for the past couple of weeks here on The Perfect Pantry. If you're still thinking about what to make for your sweetheart this weekend, try incorporating some of these love-inducing ingredients from your own pantry:

Pine nuts
Black beans

You might also have these lover-ly spices on hand, though they're not in my pantry:


According to Eater's Digest, these non-pantry foods also should be on your menu of love:

Dates, figs, apricots
Sweet Potatoes
Celery and cucumbers

And, if your goal is romance, avoid these foods:

Pistachio nuts
Lentils (are you as surprised as I am to find these on the list?)
Arugula (I don't know why; I think it's delicious.)
River snails (honestly, who has these in the pantry?)
Skink flesh/lizard (or this?)

So, what's going to be on your menu for Valentine's Day?

Beef stew

Sometimes, for your valentine, you just need to make the thing he or she loves the most. Here's a recipe with hardly any known aphrodisiac ingredients. But, trust me, this stew makes my sweetie swoon every time I make it. And, like all stews, it's even better the next day. Serves 8-10; can be frozen.


3 Tbsp olive oil
3 lb beef stew meat (chuck or bottom round), cut in 1-1/2-inch cubes
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, sliced
2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 Tbsp thyme leaf, or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bottle red wine
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp oyster-flavor sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/2 tsp paprika
4 large carrots, cut into chunks
8 small red-skinned new potatoes, cut into chunks
2 medium rutabaga, wax coating removed, cut into chunks
4-5 parsnips, peeled, cut into chunks
1 package (16 oz) frozen pearl onions


Heat oil in a very large (12-quart) stockpot. Dredge meat lightly in flour and, adding a few pieces at a time, brown meat thoroughly on all sides (remove the pieces as they're browned, into a bowl; when all of the meat is browned, add back the reserved meat and juices). Add sliced onion, and the garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent. Then, add the thyme, bay leaf, wine, mustard, tomato paste, oyster sauce, peppers and paprika. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to lowest simmer. Cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Add all of the vegetables and cook, covered, for another hour or more, until all of the vegetables are tender (the potatoes will start to fall apart a bit). Stir frequently to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The sauce should thicken, but if you'd like it thicker, stir in a solution of 1 Tbsp arrowroot dissolved in 3 Tbsp water. Don't over-thicken; the sauce will thicken on its own by the next day, assuming you have some stew left over.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Lamb stew
Sweet potato, lentil and raisin stew
Pumpkin stew
Pueblo vegetable stew
Slow-cooked beef and green chile stew

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'll be back to look at your list of aphrodisiac foods when I'm a little more alert. Please place me in your drawing- I'm the sugar-free kind of chocolate! :)

Wow, that list really got my creative juices flowing! I think I'm inspired for Saturday, although I don't usually celebrate!

...and if you want to be really kitchy, have fun playing with the words, things like "Heart Beet Salad" or "Heart and Sole".

Personally, I'm more inclined towards the truffles, vanilla and cinnamon... mmmm!

I'm surprised at how many I have on your list in my kitchen without even trying. Obviously I need to get to work but that list already has me thinking.
Love the heart shaped dish with such gorgeous beef stew!

That is exactly the kind of meal I am craving these days. Not only am I looking for warmth, my stomach is seeking comfort. To find out the dish has other "properties" is a great fringe benefit.

I pride myself on having almost every spice one can think of and if I do not have it I at least typically know what it is. No I do not mean I have all of the assorted blends but I mean straight spices/herbs. Your list actually got me to hit up wikipedia for "asafetida powder". I rarely have a need to look up a spice aside from double checking to see what is typically in a blend, but alas you got me. Thanks for helping me learn something new.

Although not on your list, for us lobster is a must this valentines day. If you know where to look online (or if your super lucky, locally) you will find that it is currently very cheap in comparison to what it often goes for. Just know where to look or at very least price check a whole lot as some sites do not alter their prices (ever I think) and are crazy high (3-5 times amount).

Lydia, we celebrate it here in June, but I can certainly take notes now and save them for later!
Oh, a dear friend of mine brought me pomegranates this morning. I'll be saving them for later... ;D

Well, shoot - if this list is any indication, I should be a fool for love!! I eat all these things frequently - it's amazing I get any work done!!! And, I would fall for the Beef Stew in a second!

According to your list, some sort of fusion curry/mole sauce over eggs will have us running for the bed before dinner is even over! lol Perhaps the menu will be aphrodisiac mash-up Saturday night! The stew looks lovely, by the way:)

Lentils? That is odd. It's just as well - we're having lentils with dinner tonight, and I have a headache. I'll just blame the lentils.

Great inspiration to put together a great meal for my sweetie. Equally great to realize it doesn't have to be fancy . . . that Beef Stew look fantastic!

Lol...almost every one of your love inducing ingredients and spices is commonly used in Indian food - I had no idea :) What great inspiration. I love the heart shaped bowl by the way.

I really do have pretty much everything in my pantry, but River snails and Skink flesh/lizard. It’s not the fact that I’m Jewish and can’t eat this sort of stuff, but even if I could there are just some things, gotta pass on.

I love your take on Beef Stew I’ll have to substitute the oyster sauce (my sub for this is fish sauce). Then there is the thyme I only have Cuban thyme in the garden (it will work, it’s just really strong) I have something in the garden that pretty much destroyed most of my herbs and the Cuban thyme is one of the only ones that survived - barely.
Thanks for the idea of using the heart shaped dish that was a great touch to what looks like a really yummy recipe.

I don't think that either celery or cucumbers are the slightest bit aphrodisiac, but a nice earthy lentil stew would accommodate almost any number or combination of the ingredients on the pantry aphrodisiacs list. I do love lentils. I haven't decided yet what to make for Valentine's day, but I think a curry would be very nice, and I'll probably bake a carrot cake (and some chocolate cookies, for good measure).

Great stew but I need to add some Guinness Stout! What do you use the asfoetida in???? There's an old John Wayne western movie with James Caan and Dean Martin that used asfoetida and a few other ingredients as a remedy for a hangover.
BTW - I like dark chocolate!

I think the bottle of red wine in the beef stew definitely counts as an aphrodisiac ingredient!

I was thinking of trying oysters for Valentine's Day this year. I have never handled them. And lots of wine of course...lots of wine.

I like the heart shaped dish, Lydia - a perfect way to serve stew on Valentine's Day. But what I loved even more was your bookworm list - it's a great listing of food-oriented books!

As a single person I may not have anyone to make this stew for but who cares, it looks so good I'll be making it anyways.

Stew in general's not really my thing but for some reason this looks really, really good...

Yum yum. Time to break out the slow cooker.

That is the way my husband likes stew...with hardly any juice and big beefy pieces.

In Curacao my husband ordered iguana at a local restaurant on the obscure/not-so-touristy end of the island. The hostess came over and "warned" me with lots of winks and innuendos, that it should be on your list.

Happy V-Day!

After reading your post, I realize I have an insane amount of aphrodisiac foods in my kitchen. Funny, I haven't noticed them doing their, shall we say, thing. Hmmm...maybe it's the lack of river snails or skink flesh, lol.

While we're on the topic of river snails, can you tell me what those snails they sell via plastic containers in the grocery are for? No liquid or anything, just dry and crammed into plastic tubes.

Surely these aren't for escargot are they? Packaged like this, the snails themselves would be dry and dead, no? Or do they reconstitute with water? Are am I missing something here and they sell the shells as-is for some culinary purpose unbenounced to me? Seriously. I need someone to clear up this mystery, because I'm earnestly puzzled.

Garlic and onions are aphrodisiacs? You'd think they'd scare away your significant other :) Great recipe and thanks for the list!

I didn't know about frozen pearl onions - what a find!

I love your heart shaped dish! Great list to have on hand! ;)

I'm so glad you clued me in about the Skink flesh/lizard, or I might have made some for Valentine's Day! Seriously, thanks for the list.

okay the photo sold me, and the fact that I love good wholesome hearty food! My stomach is smiling right now. I am off to the grocery to stock my pantry.

Those (just previous) wontons looked like a seriously aphrodisiac food. If only I knew what to do with the oil afterwards: ??

I have river snails in my cabinet. Just kidding. It would be cook if I did though. Beef stew works wonders on my man too. Thanks for a very fun post.

What a cute heart-shaped vessel, and I didn't know that there are so many common kitchen ingredients that are considered aphrodisiac foods.

Funny, I just made a huge pot of beef stew. Mine, though there are carrots aplenty, contains no potatoes. But there's lots of gravy because I serve it over noodles.

Mmm, aniseed, made into biscotti.

I am suprised by pistachio and arugula. ok, I'll double up the oyster sauce in the stew, ha!

i don't have an idea that beef is also one of the aprhodisic food,

what a delicious aphrodisiac food. Maca is another aphrodisiac food . It can be used as food ingredients. Just sprinkled 1 tablespoon of maca powder. It is an organic food so there is nothing to worry.

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