Sometimes you just need something super comforting, super easy to make and very filling. And despite being a vegetarian for 20 years now (I just had my anniversary – yay!) I still sometimes crave a good stew and dumplings.
Now, I’m not the tidiest cook, especially while my toddlers are helping me. They love helping me chop and stir and that inevitably means that mess is everywhere. So when we’re making our usual sort of meal, with pans on the hob and then serving it straight away, the cleaning up often gets left until later, sometimes much later. But when it’s a pot in the oven, we get to have tidy up time while everything is cooking. There’s something so satisfying about knowing there is something so nutritious and delicious bubbling away in the oven while the rest of the kitchen is clean and tidy.
So last night we whipped up this stew, and I posted it on my Instagram feed and everyone wants the recipe. But there wasn’t one as such. I’m a great lover of reading menu’s wherever I go, and can happily sit for hours browsing a stack of recipe books even when I’m not cooking anything, so had lots of inspiration to draw from for this creation when we were craving something with dumplings. My kids are new to dumplings, and it’s their new favourite thing! We had them last week on Aubergine Parmesan, but we were out off Aubergine’s, so stew it was.
You can use any veg you have in. I just raided the fridge and the potato shelves, started peeling and chopping and adding in anything we fancied. As with many things when cooking savoury food, there are no rules! I just chopped enough to 3/4 fill my largest saucepan and added them to some hot oil (we used coconut oil for the added nutritional benefits) with a few smashed garlic cloves. And when I say smashed, I just literally mean that. Peel a few garlic cloves and whack them with something hard once each. A few stirs in the pan for the flavours to meld into the oil, then tip the veg into your ovenproof roasting dish.
Add in some extra oil or better, then spoon in 2-3 tablespoons of flour and stir quickly to make a roux. Don’t worry, that’s really not as scary as it sounds, if you’ve never made a roux, it’s just a flour-based sauce. The flour is only there to thicken it slightly, to give a nice thick gravy without hours of reducing the sauce down through evaporation. Add in a good few glugs of tomato passata or a good squirt of tomato puree and stir again. Slowly add into the roux, whilst stirring, around 1 litre off vegetable stock (which is just 1 litre of boiling water mixed with around 4 tsps of vegetable bouillon powder). As long as you keep stirring, you can’t go far wrong. And if anything does start to look a bit lumpy, just whizz it up with a stick blender or pop in a high powered blender, a Nutribullet is ideal for this. Don’t worry, nobody will ever know. If you don’t have any of these, the just get whisking with all your might.
Tip the veg gently back into the stock mix on the heat, and cook on a medium heat for 10 mins. You can add more hot water if needed to make a saucier stew. Tip the whole lot into your oven pot and pour in the Orzo pasta (optional, but for a boost in carbohydrates to keep you all going or longer, they also soak up the sauce ad are super tasty), giving it a mix to spread it out evenly.
Split the dumpling mix into balls and place evenly across the top of the stew. Put in a pre-heated hot oven for around 25-30 minutes or until the dumplings are nicely golden and everything is bubbling.
And what do you know, I guess we just made a recipe 🙂
Vegetable and Orzo Stew with Dumplings Recipe
- 100g Vegetable Suet
- 200g SR Flour
- Splash of Water
- Optional Parmesan Cheese or Nutritional Yeast
Mix with a splash of water until the dough comes together, knead briefly and set aside. Optionally mix in some parmesan, vegan hard cheese or nutritional yeast (with or without added vitamin B12) for added flavour.
- Smashed Garlic Cloves x 6
- Herbs – Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Basil
- Passata or Tomato Puree
- Vegetable Stock (4tsp Bouillon powder to 1l of boiling water)
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and add in the garlic and some of the herbs. At this point, you can add a small chopped onion but I think they’re the work of the devil so I don’t. You can use a leek instead but I had run out, so I used the peppers and mushrooms from below. Cook gently until the oil has taken on some of the flavour. Add the butter or more oil (remove any chopped veg except onion/leek) then add in 2-3tbs of flour and quickly mix to a roux. Add in a few glugs of passata or a squeeze of tomato puree and mix quickly, then add in 1 litre of vegetable stock gradually while mixing to avoid lumps. If you get lumps, just use a stick blender or Nutribullet to whizz them out. Nobody will ever know 😉
- Sweet Potatoes
- Any other vegetables you have
- Orzo Pasta (around 100g)
Quantities depend on how many you’re feeding and the size of your pot, so just keep chopping and layering in your oven pot until it’s 3/4 full.
Cook on the hob for around 10 minutes, then tip everything into the ovenproof dish and top with the dumplings. Cook for 25-35 minutes at 200 C until bubbling and golden brown.
To keep it vegan, leave out the cheese and boost nutrition with the Nutritional Yeast Flakes. You can add some of these to the stock too.
Whatever you don’t eat makes a super great and fulfilling leftover meal for the day after. Store in a stainless steel box, such as this Elephant Box in the fridge and take with you. Tip onto a plate and re-heat.