For as long as I can remember one of my favourite teas has been my Mums Stew and Dumplings. Marley’s dumplings are always super fluffy and light, the ultimate in comfort food.
I wasn’t raised as a vegan so mums stew was always made with beef and the traditional veg, onions, carrots and potatoes. I knew as soon as I became vegan I had to create my own version of this perfect winter warmer. I have made many, many different versions of this and to be perfectly honest you can’t go too far wrong with a slow cooked veggie stew but I think the combination I have settled on now is the best version I have created. The ingredients list is pretty long but everything is really cheap and very easy to prepare.
I cook mine in a slow cooker, banging everything in the one pot (minus the dumplings, they go in with just an hour of cooking time left) at about 11am and I cook on low for 6 hours before adding the dumplings and then cooking for a further one hour. You can of course do this on the hob, the method will remain the same but the cooking time will reduce and you will need to keep watching and stirring.
I always serve stews with dumplings now, its not worth the grief I get if I don’t! My son Beau can happily polish off four if I let him and my daughter Skye usually ducks out after two. I am more than happy for them to have a doughy, dumpling treat though as the stew itself is cram packed full of goodness and they devour that just as eagerly as the dumplings.
From a nutritional point of view the green lentils and yellow split peas are a wonderful source of fibre and protein. The root veg is also high in fibre, with onions offering a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants, carrots are packed full of vitamins A and K and beta-carotene which have been linked to reducing cholesterol levels. Potatoes are filling, high in starch that helps feed beneficial gut bacteria and are a good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C. That is just scratching the surface, this dish really is an incredibly healthy and tasty meal. If you are being saintly just leave off the dumplings.
When it comes to thickening the stew I admit I cheat and use some shop bought gravy granules. I add a shake at the start of cooking and then another shake before adding the dumplings. I realise I would be laughed out of a chef’s kitchen but trust me you get a much richer flavour. If you recoil at the thought of using gravy granules then remove half a cup full of stewing juices just before adding the dumplings and stir a heaped teaspoon full of cornflour into the cup and then add this back into the slow cooker, stir and add the dumplings.
The dumplings need about an hour in the slow cooker (or 20 minutes on the top of the hob). The stew keeps well for approximately three days in the fridge once cooled and also freezes well.
Vegetable Stew And Dumplings
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
- 2 onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 small package chestnut mushrooms, chopped in a food processor
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
- 1/2 cup yellow split peas
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can green lentils
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 800 ml vegetable stock
- generous shake celery salt (sub with table or pink salt), pepper, dried parsley
- small shake dried thyme
- 3 tbsp red bisto (or any brand) gravy granules
- 1 cup vegetable suet
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- to taste salt and pepper
1. Wash, peel and chop all of the fresh vegetables and add to the slow cooker.
2. Drain and rinse the green lentils and add to the slow cooker.
3. Add the split peas, blitzed mushrooms, chopped parsley, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, mustard, seasonings, stock and 1 tbsp of gravy granules to the slow cooker.
4. Stir well, cook on low for 6 hours. Apparently you should not remove the lid during cooking as it increases the cooking time but I have never found it to be an issue, feel free to check and stir half way through.
5. Make your dumplings whilst the stew is cooking.
6. Combine the suet, flour and salt and pepper using a fork.
7. Add the water little by little till you create a firm dumpling dough, if its too wet add a little more flour.
8. Roll into little balls (see image for size reference) with this quantity of dough you should make between 10-12 dumplings depending on the size you go for.
9. Refrigerate till needed.
10. One hour before you want to eat add the remaining 2 tbsp granules (or follow the cornflour method mentioned in the write up above), stir well and add the dumplings.
11. Replace the lid and cook for a further one hour. This time is not totally strict, if the dumplings cook for a bit longer they will still be just as lovely.
12. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, serve and enjoy.
I really hope you and your family love this stew, as you can see from Beau’s bowl my family certainly do.
Photo: Emma Blake