My mother made the best beef stew ever! It was hearty and delicious. On a cold winter afternoon the aroma of her simmering stew filled the house, and we couldn’t wait for dinner time. Since giving up meat, the vegetable stews I tried making just seemed too light on flavor and texture. They weren’t the satisfying meal I remembered from childhood, and they left me feeling disappointed — until I hit on this recipe. Yay!
I call this Beefless Stew. It has all the flavor I remember, but none of the beef! Hearty enough to please my picky husband (he actually went back for thirds) and no unhealthy fat and cholesterol, this recipe is one you will want to make often. It is especially good with Grandma’s Dumplings!
I started everything in the crockpot. Hours later, when the vegetables were almost cooked through, I transferred the stew to a large pot on the stove (because you just can’t keep stew at the boiling point in a crockpot). The liquid must be boiling in order for the dumplings to cook properly, so don’t forget this important step.
For best results start with room temperature ingredients.
1 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
1/4 cup barley or rice
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green cabbage
2 large carrots, sliced
3 – 4 potatoes, cubed
2 Tbsp. Pumpkin puree, optional
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen, thawed), set aside
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 whole bay leaf
Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, to taste
Turn the crockpot on High and add about 1 cup of the vegetable broth, the oil, onion and garlic to the bottom of the crockpot. Cover and allow those ingredients to steam on High while you prepare the other vegetables.
When all the other vegetables (except the peas) are ready, add them to the crockpot along with the remaining broth and spices. (You will save the peas to add when the other vegetables are almost tender). Turn the crockpot to Low, and cook for 6 – 8 hours.
When the vegetables are almost tender, turn off the crockpot and transfer everything to a large stockpot. Add the peas, and heat to a slow boil. Now it’s time to add the dumplings!
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 – 1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. firm coconut oil
Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. With a pastry blender, cut in the coconut oil until it looks like tiny crumbs. Slowly add the milk until a sticky dough forms. Drop spoonfuls of dough on top of the bubbling stew (try to drop dough on the vegetables and not the broth).
Cook at a low boil for 10 minutes uncovered, then cover and cook an additional 10 minutes until the dumplings plump up and are fluffy.
Remove from heat and gently stir with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper if desired, and serve.