I remember quite well the first time I made this recipe. I was young and newlywed. My husband was working late on a project at his office. And I was either bored or avoiding doing my school work. Possibly both. Whatever it was, I decided to make Micah a real meal for once in our lives and surprise him with it while he slaved away in his cubicle. In fact, this dish could have been one of the first real meals I made after we were married. It was the dish that began to wean us off PastaRoni and Hot Pockets. It was, I’m almost positive, the first dish that Micah said, without prompting, “This is really good.”
I was kind of blown away by his comment. Really? Good? The food? That I made? From scratch? Wow. I was not expecting that. And so it was that this meal became a family favorite.
Rightly so. It was good. And 6+ years later it still is good. It is filling, but not heavy. It is flavorful and full of vegetables. It is one of my go-to simple meals that I always have the ingredients for. And it’s so easy even a child(bride) can do it.
For the tomato base:
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
For the dumplings:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. butter, cold
1 T. snipped fresh parsley
2/3 cup milk.
In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, and celery and saute until tender, about five minutes. Add the tomatoes (with juice), bay leaf, brown sugar, basil, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dumplings: mix flour baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Cut the tablespoon of butter into small pieces. Add to the flour mixture and cut it in by pinching it quickly with your fingers. Add parsley and milk, stir until just mixed — it will still be lumpy and that is good. Drop the dumpling batter into six mounds onto the tomato mixture. Cover tightly and simmer 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve.