Spring veggie casserole with little herb dumplings
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
Prep:45 mins - 2 hrs
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