Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings...

Guess what? We get to cross another vegetable off the list that we had never tried before! Woo! In this Root Vegetable Stew with Herbed Dumplings that I made for dinner tonight, the recipe didn't call for what specific vegetables to use - it just gave a few suggestions of what you could pick from. We started with carrots and parsnips since we've had both of them before, but then we went out a on limb and decided to try beets for the first time!

This stew starts out by browning off a couple raw links of sausage - we used hot Italian turkey sausage, but you could use sweet as well. If you don't groove on turkey sausage, swap those links out for their pork counterpart. The links are cooked first like this so you they can be sliced into coins and added back in later. If you don't want to bother with that, you could remove the sausage's casing and then just leave the crumbled sausage in the pot when you start the rest of the stew.

Diced onions are then tossed into the pot to begin softening - once almost done, a couple pounds worth of peeled and diced root vegetables are stirred in. As mentioned, we used carrots, parsnips and beets - you could also use rutabaga, turnips or even that gnarly looking celeriac if you want to impart a celery-esque flavor. One note on the parsnips - if they are particularly large, there might be a core that is quite fibrous that you'll want to remove before chopping the rest of it up. After a few minutes of cooking, four generous cloves of minced garlic and a sprinkling of fresh rosemary are tossed in. Broth is added and the pot is left alone until the liquid begins to bubble. At this point, the sausage coins and a bunch of greens are stirred in. Use whatever dark greens you like - turnip, carrot, kale or collards. Since we were already using beets and the beets we bought came with their own greens attached, we went ahead and just used those!

While waiting for soup to come back up to temperature, the dumpling batter is made and to tie in the flavor of the stew, we also added some chopped fresh rosemary to the mixture. Somewhat stiff, we scooped out tablespoons worth of the batter and drop them into the pot to puff and expand. There is one thing I really didn't take into account when we decided to add the beets in... that the soup would go from clear to deep red! The dumplings were stained a bit as they cooked - oops! This isn't necessarily a problem, other than aesthetics, but I think Jeff was a bit taken aback by the color... hee hee!

We thought the dumplings tasted well and were not heavy, but they were not as light as one might expect - a bit more firm and almost cake-y. Even though there wasn't a ton of sausage to go around for 6 servings, the hot Italian sausage we used had enough power to season each bowl well. Earthy and mildly sweet, the vegetables were tender, yet still had enough of a bite to them that Jeff deemed them worthy and not mushy (the texture he despises most!). While this didn't make us fall in love with beets, the good news is that we didn't dislike them either. It's a start at least - now, where to try them next?


  1. I am so ready to try this stew! And looking at the recipe, I think I could leave out the sausage. So glad you discovered beets - I am insanely fond of them but boy the red fingers when I cook them! I've never tried them in a stew though......

  2. The stew looks really good but I have to say: try roasted beets one of these days.
    Beets are so much tastier than when you boil it (or cook it in soups).
    I like beets a lot either raw grated in salads or roasted (wrap them in foil and put in a 400F oven, roast for about 40 minutes to 1 hour depending on size).
    I find that they sort of loose their flavors to the broth when they are boiled... My mom used to put beets on soup but I always preferred when she used then in salads. But after I discovered the roasted ones I never went back to putting them on a pot with water.
    Roasted beets are delicious, I am sure you will like it!

  3. Joe,

    The Husband made this last night with similar results. We used sweet potato (he doesn't like beets), with parsnips and carrots from the garden. Our dumplings weren't what I would call heavy, but they didn't turn out exactly light either. I thought they held up well in the soup - better than other dumplings we've made.

    We used up some of the last of the chard greens from the garden and subbed kielbasa for the sausage (because I don't like sausage). :P

    We would make this again - I think it would be lovely for company on a chilly day.

  4. Beets are great! I am glad you didn't hate them, but sorry you didn't love them. You discovered the only downside to them--they turn everything, including your hands, bright red/pink!

    Don't give up on beets yet! Try them roasted with a bit of orange juice--they are super good! Also, grated (messy, but worth it) with grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts makes for a really delicious salad. You can dress it with a little orange juice/vinegar/oil mixture. Yum!


  5. Thanks! We are not ready to give up yet... I guess we'll have to try them roasted and raw on salads now! I appreciate the suggestions!

  6. If your new to beets try a simple oven roasting with onion, garlic, sea salt. wrap in parchment to make it quick and tender.