Smoky Butternut Squash Stew with Chickpea Dumplings


It’s totally meat-free, but this hearty stew – laden with vegetables, smoky rich and topped with sticky chickpea dumplings – couldn’t feel further from a vegetarian compromise.

The earthiness of the cumin-laced dumplings sits perfectly alongside the autumnal flavours in the stew, but if you want a more traditional topping, just lose the mashed chickpeas in the dumpling mix, add a dash more flour and adjust the water accordingly.

Serves 6

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons harissa paste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 medium carrots, thickly sliced
1 butternut squash, 1–1.2kg, peeled and cut into 2–3cm chunks
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained
600–750ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper, to taste

For the dumplings:
1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
150g plain flour
75g vegetable suet
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Good pinch of salt
Small handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
90–100ml cold water

Heat the oil in a large pan over a low heat, then add the onion and fry gently for 10 minutes, until they’re softened and translucent.

Add the garlic, harissa and spices and cook for 2 minutes before throwing in the carrots and butternut squash. Put a lid on the pan, make sure the heat’s reasonably low and let the vegetables sweat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Once the vegetables have begun to steam, tip in the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and enough vegetable stock to comfortably cover the veg, bring to a simmer then cook with the lid off for 20 minutes to reduce the sauce a little.

While the stew cooks, prepare the dumpling mix. In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a fork until no whole ones are left. Toss through the flour, suet, baking powder, ground cumin, paprika, salt and parsley. Add enough cold water to work the ingredients together to a firm, slightly sticky dough.

Once the stew has had a chance to reduce, season it. Divide the dumpling dough into 10–12 balls and sit them on top of the simmering stew. Put the lid on the pan and cook for 20 minutes, until the dumplings are spongy, the vegetables tender and the sauce rich and smooth.

  ©Charlotte Bland, 2016

©Charlotte Bland, 2016