Winter Vegetable Stew with dumplings

This is one of my favourite Fife Diet dishes. It varies from season to season, and is totally flexible depending on what you have around. You should make enough for two days as there is quite a lot of peeling – but be warned that sometimes you will eat the whole lot on the first day by mistake. If you want to save some for next day, make the dumplings again, fresh as you reheat the stew. We usually eat with steamed cabbage.

I have left all the quantities pretty vague. Add more of what you like and less of what you don’t. Use up whatever you have. But following these rough amounts there should be enough for two adults to eat over two days, plus feed a couple of small children.

The trick to the stew is to get the pot going while you’re preparing the other veg. This means everything has had a bit of a steam at the start, adding to the flavour. Just keep an eye on it to make sure the bottom of the pan doesn’t burn. Choose a big pan to allow room for stirring with a tight fitting lid – something like a stock pot.

Ingredients

oil: olive, rapeseed or butter
onions, red or white, at least 2, maybe more
garlic – at least 3 cloves – more if you like
leeks – about 4 or 5
1 big or 2 small turnip
4 or 5 parsnips
half a celeriac – use less than any other veg
carrots orange or yellow or a mix – about 10 medium ones in total

Method

Warm the oil in the pan over a medium heat. Slice the onions fairly fine, and the garlic crushed. Put the lid on and allow to sweat whilst checking regularly. Meanwhile wash and slice the leeks. Add them to the pan, mix well and put the lid back on. If things look a bit dry at this point you can add any wine you’re thinking of using.

Add the bay leaves. Using a sharp knife cut the skin off the turnip. Then dice to about 1cm cubed – but no need to be too exact. Add to the pan and stir well. Halve the celeriac. Cut the skin off and then dice into 1cm cubes. Add to the pan and keep stirring. If the pan is sticking or dry you could add a splash of freshly boiled water to keep things moving. Either scrub, scrape or peel the carrots and parsnips and then slice to about 1cm thick – then cut into quarters so you get nice chunks. Rinse under the tap then add to the pan. Give everything a really good stir and leave for a few minutes more.

For the Stock…

Ingredients

bay leaves – 2 or 3

a teaspoon or so of bouillon (optional)

salt & pepper

splash of red or white wine if you have any (add early)

dash of soy sauce

Method

You can put in fresh or dried herbs if you have any especially rosemary or thyme or sage if you have fresh (but not dried). Put 3 or 4 leaves of that in right at the start.

Now add the stock ingredients. Any one of the ingredients can be left out or more of one added. But when you’ve put everything in, add boiling water until it is just visible at the surface of the stew. Probably about 1 – 1.5 litres depending. This should mean that you don’t need to top up later.

Increase the heat to get things boiling then put the lid on and reduce heat to a simmer.

This should now take about 45 mins to cook. Don’t over do it as you don’t want sludge. So keep an eye on it and mid way through check the seasoning and add whatever more it needs.

For the Dumplings…

4 oz self raising flour

2 oz butter

a large pinch any dried or fresh herb you like – including bought dried mixed herbs

salt and pepper

cold water to mix

Just before you’re ready to eat make the dumplings. You want to eat them as soon as they’re done. Mix the flour, herbs, salt, pepper and butter together to breadcrumbs – you can use a food processor. Then add enough cold water to make a dough. Divide the dough into 10 or 12 little balls and sit them on top of the stew. Put the lid back on and leave to simmer for about 20 – 25 mins. Then eat!