When you’re in the thick of winter and hitting the January blues you can’t beat curling up with a hearty stew and a serious side of greens. My conundrum until now has been how I manage to satisfy both my own and my vegetarian boyfriend's winter stew cravings in one meat free pot. After twelve years of committed carnivorous abstinence, The Vegetarian had forgotten what an actual beef stew tasted like, having been fobbed off with tomato and lentil style stews over the years. I took on the challenge to create the most beef like winter stew I could and I have to say it came out pretty well. Here’s my delicious rich winter stew with dumplings, even if I do say so myself.
Note – Ensure you have enough stock/gravy in your stew so that the barley doesn’t stick while you cook your dumplings.
Instead of chestnut mushrooms you can use dried and rehydrated porcini. Seitan is a wheat gluten meat substitute popular in Asia, you should be able to find this in most large supermarkets or Asian stores. For a vegan option, instead of mature Cheddar use 3 tablespoons of engevita yeast flakes.