Vegetarian Lunch #4 – Fragrant Vegetable Stew with Corn Dumplings

Vegetarian lunch_4Tuesdays Vegetarian Lunch wasn’t blogworthy, so I decided to skip posting that day. We had a busy day, so lunch consisted of humble but tasty Morningstar brand Blackbean burgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion on burger buns.

Wednesday’s lunch, however, was eminently blogworthy. A bracing stew chockful of vegetables and redolent with the warming spices of the Middle East filled us up and warmed us to our cockles. This was the first time I made this soup, but it is a keeper for sure. Of course, I didn’t keep to the recipe, and some parts where I did, will be altered. The soup included a pat of several tablespoons of butter. I did that, but I didn’t like the feel of the butter, so for us it will be one part of the recipe which will not be included again. The soup also calls for parsnips, which I omitted and replaced with butternut squash which I had on hand. I also didn’t have quite as much parsley as it called for, but still plenty for the purposes. And, lastly, I added more salt to the corn dumplings, and fresh chives.

Before I write the recipe I wanted to have a quick word with you about fresh chives and parsley. Please don’t use the dried stuff. It tastes horrible. It has horrible texture. Every few weeks I buy two bushels of fresh curly parsley, I pluck the leaves, wash them and let them drip dry. Once the excess water has dried off, I run the fresh green leaves through my food processor and then plop the chopped up leaves in a well sealed plastic container and pop the whole thing into the freezer. When I need parsley, I scrape the needed amount out of the plastic container and voila, fresh parsley. We grow an inordinate amount of chives every year and I harvest it, wash it, use scissors to chop it up and freeze it much the same way I freeze parsley. It remains fresh and tasty throughout the cold winter season. Don’t freeze it in water or oil. Just loosely pack it into a container and keep in the freezer. You can thank me later and call me your hero. I’m humble that way. 

Alright. Prepare to drool all over your keyboard. The recipe has a lot of ingredients but comes together easily enough. It is adapted from ‘Simply Satisfying, over 200 Vegetarian Recipes you’ll want to make again and again’ by the talented Jeanne Lemlin.

Fragrant Vegetable Stew with Corn Dumplings

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
1.5 teaspoons of Moroccan Vegetable Rub by Spices, Inc.
or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Allspice ground, pinch ground ginger, 1/4 tsp gr. cumin, 1/4 gr. coriander
1 tsp. hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne (Omit if you don’t like it spicy)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup diced tomatoes
10 cups low sodium vegetable stock (I did 5 cups stock, 5 cups plain water)
3/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 -1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium carrots, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
12 oz. box frozen baby lima beans
2 cups frozen corn (or fresh)
3 tbsp. butter (I didn’t like that, so will omit next time)

Dumplings
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 whole wheat flour
2 tbsp. cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (I added a tad more)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. chilled butter
1/2 cup corn, thawed if frozen
1 tbsp. fresh chives
1/2 cup cold milk

Heat oil in a large pot and sauté onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes until starting to brown. Add bay leaves, cloves, and spices, sauté for a minute. Add tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, half of the parsley, vegetables with the exception of the corn.  Simmer on low heat until the vegetables are almost tender. At this point I added some cornstarch to thicken the soup a little. 

While the soup simmers, prepare your dumplings. Combine dry ingredients and cut the butter into it until it resembles little crumbles. Add the corn and chives and mix. Slowly as needed add the cold milk until just moistened. Form into 8 little flat balls. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Add the remaining parsley, the corn, and butter if using and cook for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.  With the stew simmering gently, add the dumplings. Close the lid and cook for 15 minutes. Check if the dumplings are done by inserting a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done. If not, cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve the stew with one dumpling per serving.

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