Okay, this was my first experience with tofu, and I must say that I was somewhat surprised—it was better than I expected, but it certainly wasn’t a candidate for my list of favorite foods. I guess for me it’s a texture thing—I just can’t get beyond it, but at least tofu has the ability to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients, which makes it palatable. No, eating tofu isn’t just like eating chicken, but I suppose if I were strictly vegetarian (rather than just one or two days a week) I would develop an appreciation for it.

“Very Veggie Dumpling Stew” is not only “very veggie,” but it’s also very tasty despite the tofu; in fact, I think it probably would be fine to make it without the tofu if you have a real aversion (or allergy) to it (although you might have to cut down on some of the liquid). I found this recipe, which was submitted by “kk1000,” on BetterRecipes.com, a site that has many good slow cooker recipes. The simple dumplings went very well with the stew, but I’m thinking that the next time I make this stew, a bit of leftover chicken or beef might find its way into the crock pot rather than the tofu.

Here’s what you need:

          For the Stew:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. extra-firm tofu
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 ¼ cups vegetable stock, divided
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour

          For the Dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup margarine, softened
  • ¼ cup soy milk
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Here’s what to do:

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Sauté the onions for 3 minutes.
  • Cut the tofu into half-inch cubes and add to the skillet.
  • Using a garlic press, crush the garlic directly into the skillet.
  • Sauté the ingredients for 10 minutes more, browning the tofu cubes on all sides.
  • Transfer the onion and tofu mixture to a slow cooker and set the temperature to low.
  • Stir in 2 cups vegetable stock, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup for later use.
  • Add the soy sauce, green beans, carrots, celery, sage, salt, and pepper.
  • Cover and cook on the low heat setting for 6 to 8 hours.
  • One hour before serving, mix the remaining ¼ cup vegetable stock with 2 tablespoons of flour; then stir this into the crock pot to thicken the stew. Raise the temperature to the highest setting.
  • To make the dumplings, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Rub in the margarine, stir in the parsley, and add the soy milk to bind together.
  • Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough into the crock pot to make about 8 dumplings. Cover and cook on high for 45 minutes.
  • When the dumplings are cooked all the way through, serve the stew and dumplings immediately.