> The Beesley Buzz: Herb and Cheese Healthy Dumplings with Wonderfully Warming Winter Veg Stew

Herb and Cheese Healthy Dumplings with Wonderfully Warming Winter Veg Stew

For my entry into The Co-operative Electrical Winter Warmer recipe challenge, I wanted to create something really warming and filling. But instead of something stodgy and unhealthy, I wanted to see if I could create recipe with a healthy twist. So by using rapeseed oil in place of butter, the dumplings in this recipe are far lower in saturated fat.
No Butter: Rapeseed oil, self-raising flour, dried herbs and grated cheese for our healthy dumplings

I often associate stews with lots of red meat but again wanted to make this healthier and much more of a budget meal, so instead of meat I have used lots of lovely seasonal winter veg and pearl barley to give that warmth and filling feeling. 

We love fresh herbs in our household often growing our own in the summer months. But in winter fresh herbs can be pricey in the shops so I've used plenty of dried herbs in this recipe as an economical alternative. 

Because the dumplings primarily use store cupboard ingredients, the main cost of ingredients is the vegetables for the stew. Again this makes it a fantastic budget meal.
No meat: The main cost will be the vegetables - making this a great value meal
I have given a list of the ingredients I used based on the seasonal veg that arrived in our veg box this week, but you can use all sorts of different vegetables based on what you have at home or what's in season in store. 

I have also listed quantities, but in reality I usually just use what I've got guess-timating quanities along the way. 

Oh and in case it wasn't enough to challenge myself to make something warming, filling, yet healthy, at a budget cost, I have to mention that I have never ever before made dumplings, so I'm learning something new at the same time! 

Ingredients for the stew (this makes enough for a big family so adjust quantities if you need to):
A little rapeseed oil
175g pearl barley
1 onion
3-4 parsnips (c. 500-700g)
4-5 carrots (c. 400-600g)
1 golden beet root (I happened to have one of these this week - you could use swede, turnip, celeriac or even kohlrabi or leeks as an alternative)
500 ml vegetable stock
250 ml white wine
2 bay leaves
Dried Mixed herbs

Ingredients for the dumplings (makes 12)
200g self raising flour
80ml rapeseed oil
Dried mixed herbs
100g grated mature cheddar
3-4 tablespoons cold water

I've listed step by step instructions, but essentially the short version is putting all the stew ingredients into a pan until cooked. Adding the dumplings, then finishing off in the oven. It could also be made in a slow cooker up until the last stage if you have a slow cooker and find that easier. 

Here it is step by step:

1. Heat a little rapeseed oil in a pan on the hob (if you happen to have a hob-to-oven dish then the whole recipe can be done using one-pot, if not just transfer into an oven-proof dish for the last stage). 

2. Chop the onion and fry until softened. I often freeze chopped onions before they start to turn bad to reduce wastage and so that I have a ready supply when I need them.

3. Peel and chop your vegetables. They can be chopped into large chunks. My son loves to help with chopping veg and he has been doing it since he was 6 years old using a proper sharp knife. So regular readers won't be surprised to see that 7 year old D, our very own Brilliant Chef who is my inspiration in the kitchen, decided to help with the cooking. 

There are a couple of techniques that children can use to chop veg safely (under very close supervision). 

The claw technique involves holding the vegetable with your hand like a claw so that your fingers are tuned back and your knuckles act as a guard to prevent you cutting fingers.

Seven year old D demonstrates the claw technique...
The second technique is the tunnel technique where you make a tunnel over the knife as you cut through the vegetable.

...And the tunnel technique for cutting. 

(If your children are too young to help with the veg, don't worry, they will love getting involved with making the dumplings!)

4. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan. 

5. Wash the pearl barley in a sieve under running water and add to the pan. At this point you may want to add a little water to stop the barley from sticking to the pan.

6. Add 250ml white wine and bring to the boil. then reduce to a simmer. A top tip to avoid wastage is to freeze any leftover wine in ice cube trays to use in cooking. You could, of course, drink the rest of the wine with your meal instead! 

7. Add 500ml vegetable stock.

8. Add 2 bay leaves and a generous sprinkle of dried mixed herbs (1-2 teaspoons).

9. Stir well and simmer for 45 minutes. Now pre-heat the oven to 180C. 

10. Whilst it is simmering, you can make your dumplings by rubbing the flour and oil together to make breadcrumbs, then add a generous sprinkle of dried mixed herbs. Add in the grated cheese, then add a little water to combine into a dough.

The kids will love helping to make the dumplings and then dividing them and shaping them into balls.

Shaping the dumplings

ta da!
11. Then you will need to transfer your stew into a large oven proof dish and pop the dumplings on top. Place in the oven (uncovered!) at 180 C for 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown. 

My children love dishes with barley in so for us this makes an excellent family meal.
A wonderfully warming winter family meal!
After the excesses of Christmas, this really is a wonderfully warming winter stew that won't pile on the calories, and won't break the budget. 

To find out more about this blogger challenge, visit The Co-operative Electrical Competition page and there's more at Tots100 too. The competition is being independently judged by some wonderful bloggers including Baby Budgeting, Tinned Tomatoes, and The Diary of a Frugal Family.

To find out more about Co-operative electrical, visit them at www.coopelectricalshop.co.uk


  1. This looks so delicious. Looks like you've got the perfect helper too :)

    1. thanks Jess. It did turn out really well to my surprise! Yes D is a great helper in the kitchen. xxx


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