Since I made something sweet which is ghostly chocolate orange tarts for Halloween last year, I decided to tackle a savory dish and set about creating a Halloween stew with dumplings.
At this time of year, a hearty stew is my go-to dinner dish and I love experimenting with different flavor combinations. As this is a Halloween stew, the basic ingredient had to be pumpkin, to which I added sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, and red lentils. My spice base was similarly warming, both in color and taste, using turmeric and cumin seeds.
The spooky element came in the form of dumplings. Now, I am never going to make classic stew and dumplings as well as my grandma, who makes it better than anyone. My easy healthy dumplings for stew are also vegetarian and gluten-free. This means that I can’t use suet in the dumplings, which makes them light and fluffy.
Mine are a bit more like savory biscuits. If you want to make this dish for yourself and you don’t need it to be gluten-free, you can substitute the butter for the same amount of suet (either animal or vegetable) to get true dumplings. You can use almond flour dumplings for stew.
I made each ‘dumpling’ into a little ghost, by using sultanas for their eyes and open ‘oohing’ mouths. The sultanas also added a certain sweetness to the dish, which, along with the spices, gave it an almost Middle Eastern taste.
It’s a bit of fun, making dumplings for stew, plus the spooky dumplings may encourage children to eat a whole pile of veg. If you’re not adroit, you can make simple dumplings for stew.
I found I had extra stew left over in the pan, so I blitzed it into a soup and froze it for some time when I needed a quick, healthy dinner. 2 meals for the price of 1 – who can complain about that? This dish is even better when being served with Halloween Pumpkin Martini. Here is how to cook Halloween stew with dumplings in the oven:
Halloween stew with dumplings
For the stew
- 1 baby pumpkin
- 4 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 sweet potato
- 80 g red lentils
- 1/2 a large onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- Black pepper to taste
For the dumplings
- 100 g self-raising flour gluten-free blend
- 50 g butter substitute for suet if not making gluten-free
- Sprinkling of salt
- 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
- 30 ml water
- Preheat the oven to 180oC.
- Peel and roughly chop the veg, deseeding the pumpkin. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.
- Heat a little oil in a large saucepan and put in the onion and garlic, cooking slowly until softened.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and mix in the spices. Add the stock, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 10 mins.
- Rinse, drain, and add the lentils to the pan. Leave to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Transfer the stew to a casserole dish (if there is too much for your dish, reserve to make soup), cover and put into the oven for 20 mins.
- Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Put the flour, salt and herbs into a mixing bowl and combine. Then add the diced butter and incorporate into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add a little of the water at a time and lightly bring together into a dough. Cut into four pieces and roll each one into a round shape.
- Create the ghost faces with three sultanas to each dumpling, then place the dumplings on top of the stew.
- Return the stew to the oven and cook uncovered for a further 20 mins until the dumplings are beginning to turn golden.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Serve with gravy made from vegetable stock and thickened with a little cornflour.