I love the word dumpling.
It starts so crude and vulgar but ends so whimsically poetic, doesn’t it?
Anyone who is a keen reader of my blog knows how much I hate waste. Yes the planet and yes the cost save etc etc etc but I know there are other bloggers who will reel off these economic and planet saving benefits much better than I could.
I am more in love with the feeling I get from reusing and repurposing of ingredients because it cements me into my kitchen rhythm.
I’ve banged on about a Kitchen Rhythm quite a lot on this blog but it’s true. Anybody who wants to feel more connected to their lives / themselves through food will find this easier and more organic once they establish a Kitchen Rhythm. My rhythm is dependent on what ingredients I have in my Kitchen, how they inform each other and how one ingredient in one recipe can impact a meal to follow.
This recipe does kind of epitomise this logic.
These dumplings are actually the product of some leftover sweet potatoes I had going spare and some frozen peas I had banging about in the freezer. And the broth for this stew? The water I boiled the sweet potatoes in.
Having this mentality and approach to cooking means that you are viewing your Kitchen a little more holistically, drawing parallel lines between one meal and another meaning that a quick, no effort extra step in one meal means that you’ve already laid the foundation for another.
It’s a circle of life you don’t have to lift a baby lion up on a rock for.
This also means you can plan out your meals a little more carefully. Knowing that you will be boiling potatoes means you will have a gorgeous, starchy liquid that would provide the basis of a fantastic, thick soup (if it’s not oversalted, of course). So knowing you’re having mash on a Monday might open up the door for a soup on a Wednesday.
It’s all about just thinking slightly more savvy about your ingredients. It also means you waste nothing, which like I said, someone else can explain why this is good better than I can, but I can at least tell you it how good it feels to know you didn’t throw anything away.
So… the dumplings.
Yes, sacrilegious to have leftover mash – WHO DOESN’T EAT ALL THE mash – but there you go. I had leftover sweet potato mash. Sue me.
This stew is like a hug from your nan. Yes it’s a bit pauper-y given that there is no meat and it literally only has 3 other ingredients and some dumplings in it, but the warming comfort this gives you is really unparalleled.
First you actually need some sweet potato mash so proceed as follows.
By the way, this totally works with normal mash.
Peel a large sweet potato (or two small ones) and place in a pan of water. Grab three garlic cloves, take them out of their skin and throw into the water with a gentle pinch of salt.
Boil until the sweet potatoes are tender. Tender meaning you could crush it with a fork if you tried.
Take the sweet potatoes out – keep the water! Mash up sweet potatoes (and the garlic) with a little more salt and pepper and add a slight dash of butter.
I mean you could eat these right here and now but let’s say you made these ages ago and you have about 100g of them leftover!
For the dumplings, you need to match whatever G of potato you have with peas. So if you have 100g of sweet potato left, you need 100g of frozen peas.
Boil some frozen peas in some water until they are soft and squishy (I usually just put them in a bowl and pour over some boiling water and let them sit).
Chuck these in a food processor and blitz to a green, pulpy mush. Now stir this green mush into your leftover mash and add about 50g of plain flour until the mash and peas start to stiffen slightly to a loose dough.
Take big tablespoons of this dough and with wet hands, roll them into dumplings. Plonk them on a waiting plate until you need them.
For the stew, we’re going as simple as this.
Heat a little olive oil and throw in a chopped leek and some parsnips which you’ve sliced as finely as you’ve got the nerve for.
Fry these with some salt and pepper until they start to lose their raw edge.
Now pour in your leftover sweet potato water. Bring it to a boil, drop it to a simmer, throw on a lid and let it bubble for about 15 minutes.
After this time, bring the water back up to a boil and drop in your dumplings. They will need about 5/6 minutes in the water but after they’ve been in for about 4 minutes, throw in a few fistfuls of spinach.
Pop a lid on and let everything come together for another 2 or 3 minutes until the dumplings have taken on a glossy sheen, the spinach has wilted and the stew has taken on a golden colour from the spinach leaves.
Serve with another twist of pepper and, if you’re feeling piggish, a grating of parmesan cheese.