Spring veggie casserole with little herb dumplings
A vegetarian supper full of fresh flavours, perfect for sharing with friends
For the dumplings
- 100g self-raising flour
- 50g butter at room temperature, cut in pieces
- 50g mature cheddar, finely grated
- 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
For the casserole
- 3 tbsp light olive oil
- 8 shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthways
- 250g small new potatoes, cut int half
- 3 peeled garlic cloves, cut in half lengthways
- 200g baby carrots, scraped but left whole
- 2-3 fennel bulbs (about 500g total weight), each cut into 8 wedges
- 600ml boiling vegetable stock (Marigold Swiss bouillion is good)
- 300g fruity white wine, such as sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio
- pinch of muscovado sugar, light or dark
- ½ tsp light soy sauce
- 200g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 250g chestnut mushrooms, halved if large
- 200g baby courgettes, each cut into 4 chunks, or 2 courgettes cut in sticks
- 2 tsp cornflour
- ½ fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp each snipped chives and chopped parsley
- To make the dumplings, rub the flour and butter together so it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese, parsley and salt and pepper to season and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan or flameproof casserole (about 3.5 litres) over a high-ish heat, then throw in the halved shallots. Fry for 2-3 minutes till beginning to soften and turn brown and gold in places.
- Now still working on quite a high heat, add the potatoes and watch for the same effect, about 5-7 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon and generally moving the pan about a bit.
- Add the garlic, carrots and fennel, allowing a couple of minutes between each so they get a chance to release their flavours.
- Pour in the stock along with most of the wine, then stir in the sugar and soy sauce and return to the boil. Simmer covered for 10 minutes.
- If preparing ahead make up to the end of step 2, cool and chill for up to five hours. About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, bring back to the boil, and continue with step 3.
- Stir about 2 tbsp of water into the dumpling mixture to form a soft dough. Break off small pieces to make 20-25 dumplings, then shape into rounds about the size of a cherry tomato.
- Add the green beans and simmer for 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and courgettes. Stir the cornflour into the remaining wine until it has dissolved, then stir into the casserole until it thickens.
- Bring to the boil, stir well then gently place the dumplings on top. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer gently for about 15 minutes till the dumplings have risen, and the stew is rich and thick and the vegetables deliciously tender. Check the seasoning.
- Mix the chilli and herbs together in a small bowl and scatter on top of the casserole.