A few months ago, someone asked me if I had a recipe for a vegetarian version of Chicken and Dumplings. There are a lot of dishes on my mental list of things to make meatless, but that’s one that I never really thought about, mostly because I’ve never had Chicken and Dumplings before. I forgot about it for a while, then I happened to see a Chicken and Dumplings recipe on Martha Stewart’s website and thought maybe I’d give this whole Chicken and Dumplings thing a try. Minus the chicken, of course.
The big honkin’ question when you’re making a meat-based recipe meatless is, “What will I replace the meat with?” I thought about using seitan, but I decided to go with chickpeas because I remembered that Thrifty Veggie Mama had used them in a vegetarian Chicken and Dumplings recipe too and chickpeas are more readily available than seitan. So we have dealt with the main obstacle!
Making a recipe vegetarian isn’t always just about switching out one ingredient for another though. For the Martha Stewart recipe I was adapting, I knew a lot of the flavor would come from the chicken, so I needed to add more flavors to the pot to keep the finished dish from being bland. I usually substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth, but in recipes where the chicken broth is a main component, I will sometimes use vegetarian chicken broth, either from the carton or from bouillon cubes. I decided to do that here; I also took some ideas from a Chicken and Dumplings recipe on Saveur and added white wine, extra thyme, and a bay leaf. The Saveur recipe included bacon too; I liked the idea of adding a little smokiness to the stew, so I included a half teaspoon of smoked paprika. This is enough to give the finished dish a subtle, smoky flavor without it being, “Oh, hey, you added smoked paprika to this!”
Chris and I aren’t fans of peas, so I took those out and added a parsnip and red potatoes instead. The chickpea-and-veggie stew is prepared in a big Dutch oven and once it comes to a boil, you drop spoonfuls of dumpling batter onto the top. When you put the lid on the Dutch oven, the dumplings will steam in the pot; 20 minutes later, your veggies are tender, your dumplings are firm and puffy, and you have a big pot of comfort food to keep you warm and full.
This post was originally published on February 12, 2014.