Haricot bean stew with carrot top dumplings
Whenever I mention that I am making dumplings to my friends they all find it hilarious. One night in third year of college, while I was writing my dissertation, I ate so many dumplings I couldn't get to sleep. I had a deadline the next day and my housemates found me in tears in the kitchen at 3am, thinking it was about my essay, when actually it was all because of too many dumplings. I guess anyone who's studied will know the powers of portion control abandon you when you're spending all day fantasising about the stew you're going to make for dinner instead of Philip Roth.
In any case, I don't think all the sleepless nights in a winter could get in the way of my adoration for those little stodgy blighters. I used carrot tops to add some flavour to the dumplings- after preparing the carrots for the stew, I was about to throw the carrot tops away, before realising I was putting some really fragrant greens in the bin that I must be able to use in some way. So they're included in the dumplings here, although parsley or spinach that has been cooked and then drained of all its liquid would also work really well.
Makes enough for 4
2 white onions, 1 chopped small and 1 kept in large chunks
Salt and pepper
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 vegetable stock cubes or about 1 litre of vegetable stock already made
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and in chunks
1 leek, chopped in to chunks
5 stalks cavolo nero or another robust green like kale, washed and chopped in large chunks
Handful of broccoli florets
Handful of green beans
1 bay leaf
300g cooked haricot beans
For the dumplings
90g shredded vegetable suet (Atora's is vegan or a supermarket brand's own label are usually vegan).
200g self raising flour
Handful of carrot tops chopped down very small, or the same amount and preparation for parsley
Good pinch of salt
Heat the oil in a pan that you have a lid to hand for and add in the onions with the salt and pepper and let them sweat down. After the smaller pieces of onion have started to turn translucent, add in the potato and the stock. I use two cubes as there is a lot of vegetables to flavour, and the beans will also need quite a bit of flavour to avoid anything tasting bitter.
Once the stew is simmering, add in the carrots, leek and cavolo nero, the broccoli, the beans, the bay leaf, and cook for about 10 minutes just to give everything a head start on the beans. Once the potatoes and beginning to soften, add in the haricot beans and leave to simmer with the lid off.
For the dumplings, grab a large mixing bowl and combine the suet with the flour and water, adding in the chopped herbs or greens and a good pinch of salt. The dumplings should be slightly sticky but malleable. Gently flour your hands and roll in to balls- I prefer smaller dumplings to ensure they are cooked properly, so you should be able to make about 10-12 from this mixture. As soon as all the dumplings are ready, gently add them to the top of the stew at even spaces and put a lid on the pan. The steam rising up from the stew cooks the dumplings so try to keep the lid on as much as possible while they cook for the next 20 minutes.
After about 20 minutes the dumplings should have expanded and thickened up the stew a little with the excess flour they were rolled in. Serve up 2-3 dumplings per portion. Tears optional.