Pic of Butterbean casserole with cheese and apple kefir dumplings

Butterbean casserole with cheese and apple kefir dumplings

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Vegetarian mains

Butterbean casserole with cheese and apple kefir dumplings

Main Serves 2 1h 20 min
Nourishing and healthy, this casserole is packed with veg and served with cheese and apple dumplings to add a pop of flavour. Let's face it, who doesn't love a dumpling? I did a little experiment with these ones; as we can't use suet (no vegetarian or organic kinds available), I've used a mix of fats from butter and cheese, and instead of water or milk used kefir, an organic cultured milk drink. Kefir (meaning 'feel good' in Turkish) is rich in amino acids, enzymes, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and B vitamins and packed with gut-friendly bacteria. Any leftover can be drunk, used on cereal or in baking.



  • 2 celery sticks
  • 300g carrots
  • 1 leek
  • oil for frying, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 60ml white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin butterbeans
  • 1 low salt vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tsp cornflour

for the dumplings

  • 30g parsley
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 25g butter
  • 1 apple
  • 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3-4 tbsp kefir
  • salt and pepper


Prep time: 15 min
Cooking time: 1h 5 min


  • Step 1

    Wash and finely dice the celery sticks. Wash, peel and chop the carrots into 2-3cm chunks. Cut the leek lengthways in half, finely shred, then wash well to remove any grit. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan.
  • Step 2

    Add the celery, carrots and leek. Fry gently for 10 minutes, until softened. If it looks like catching at any point, add a splash of water. Meanwhile, pick the leaves off the thyme, discarding the stems. Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
  • Step 3

    Add the wine to the veg and stir for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme leaves and tin of butterbeans plus their liquid. Refill half the tin with water and add that too. Crumble in the stock cube.
  • Step 4

    Put the cornflour in a cup and 'slake' it, i.e. stir it with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Mix it into the veg. Season with a little salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a small baking dish about 25cm x 15cm. Cover tightly with foil (or use the lid, if your dish has one) and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Step 5

    Meanwhile, wash the parsley and shake or pat dry with kitchen paper. Finely chop the leaves. When the veg has almost cooked,

make the dumplings

  • Step 1

    Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips to form a breadcrumb-like texture (this takes a few minutes).
  • Step 2

    Coarsely grate in the apple (no need to peel, just grate around until you get to the core). Add 50g (half the bag) of grated cheddar and the chopped parsley. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  • Step 3

    Gradually add about 3-4 tablespoons of the kefir, mixing it gently with your hands and bringing it together to form a dough ball that's soft and sticky-ish but not too wet. Try not to overmix it, so your dumplings stay as light as possible.
  • Step 4

    Divide the dough into 10 roughly even, walnut-sized dumpling balls (don't worry if they're not quite as neat as the photo!). Remove the foil cover from the veg. Nestle the dumplings on top.
  • Step 5

    Bake uncovered for about 15-20 minutes or so, depending on your oven, until the dumplings are plump and cooked, and starting to very lightly brown on top. Check the seasoning and divide between 2 serving bowls.

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