Slow cooker vegetarian hotpot
This slow-cooker vegetarian stew with fluffy dumplings is a cheap and easy recipe. To make it vegan, use vegetable suet in the dumplings instead of butter and omit the pesto. This dish is perfect for batch cooking, just divide it up into indiviudal portions and you will always have warming stew at your fingertips, check the tips section for freezing instructions.
Equipment and preparation: For this recipe you will need a 6.5 litre/11½ pint slow cooker. This meal provides 629 kcal, 13g protein, 79g carbohydrate (of which 24g sugars), 29g fat (of which 11g saturates), 16g fibre and 1.8g salt per portion.
For the hotpot
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 small butternut squash (approximately 800g/1lb 12oz), scrubbed, deseeded and chopped into chunks
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 3 tbsp pesto (optional)
- 350ml/12fl oz hot vegetable stock (made with 1 stock cube)
- 100g/3½oz young spinach leaves (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the vegetables, in batches if necessary, and fry for 4–5 minutes, stirring regularly, until lightly browned all over. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker, sprinkle over the flour and stir well. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, chilli flakes and pesto, if using, and stir again. Pour over the stock and stir. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
After the hotpot has been cooking for 3½ hours, make the dumplings. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Coarsely grate one-quarter of the frozen butter into the flour. Toss the mixture to coat the butter lightly in the flour. Add the remaining butter in three more batches, grating and tossing it in the same way. This should prevent the dumpling dough from clumping and yield light, fluffy dumplings.
Stir in enough cold water to bring the mixture together as a soft, squidy dough. Divide into 12 equally sized pieces and roll each into a ball.
Remove the lid from the slow cooker, stir in the spinach until wilted, then arrange the dumplings gently on top. Replace the lid and continue to cook on high for a further 25–30 minutes, or until the dumplings are puffed up and fluffy.
Spoon the hotpot onto serving plates with the dumplings on top.
Tip 1: The butternut squash keeps its shape better during cooking if it is left unpeeled. The skin is edible, but you can remove it when eating the hotpot if preferred.
Tip 2: A tablespoon of dried mixed herbs can be added to the dumpling dough if desired.
Tip 3: To freeze the stew, portion it into separate containers, it will last in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Tip 4: To freeze the dumplings, put them on a tray, making sure there is space between them. Put the tray in the freezer, once the dumplings are solid you can divide them into freezer bags.