January’s recipe is very versatile as you can, of course, vary the vegetables. Make sure you use plenty of seasoning as vegetarian dishes can sometimes be bland. If you are not that keen on pearl barley you could use half pearl barley and some tinned beans and as the recipe feeds 6 you can halve the quantities. I would not personally recommend freezing it. Shallots are much easier to peel if you put them in boiling water first, but you can use red onions or ordinary onions come to that. You can add more vegetables than the recipe states if desired and I would add a couple of cloves of garlic personally and perhaps a tin of tomatoes and some tomato puree.
The dumplings are good and avoid suet although you can buy vegetarian suet and make traditional dumplings if you desire.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 350g. / 14ozs. shallots, peeled
- 2 leeks, thickly sliced
- 1/2 swede chopped into smallish chunks
- 2 parsnips, chopped into chunks
- 350g. / 14ozs. carrots, chopped into chunks if large
- 175g. / 7ozs. pearl barley
- 225. ml. white wine and 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf and 3 sprigs of thyme
- small bunch parsley, chopped
- For the dumplings:
- 100g. / 4ozs. self raising flour
- 50g. / 2ozs. unsalted butter
- 50g. / 2ozs. mature cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 tsps. finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the shallots and cook for 5 – 6 minutes until starting to soften and brown. Add the leeks for 2 minutes, then stir in swede, parsnip and carrots.
- Pour in the pearl barley and wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Add stock, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and seasoning. Cover the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes until the barley and vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally to stop it catching.
- Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Heat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6. Rub flour and butter together to form breadcrumbs. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle over 2 tbsps. of water, mix to form a soft dough. Divide into six and roll into balls. Dot on top of the stew and transfer to the oven. Cook uncovered for 20 – 25 minutes until the dumplings are golden.