Gluten Free Cornmeal Dumplings with Red Beans and Kale Recipe

by Carol Kicinski on September 23, 2011

gluten free recipes cornmeal dumplings with red beans and kale I have a question for my gluten-free vegan readers – do you really want vegan food that tastes “meaty”? Honestly, I am curious because I often hear vegan and vegetarian food described as having a “meaty substance” and yet these are dishes for people who have decided, for one reason or another, to eliminate meat from their diet.

I suppose the point is that by adding ingredients to a vegan or vegetarian dish that are “meaty” it makes it more palatable to people who think that meat is essential to a meal.   (Like my husband)

But is “meaty” really the right adjective? Maybe not – I think the correct word is “umami”. Umami is defined as savoriness and is one of the 5 basic tastes, the other 4 being sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Adding savoriness to a meatless dish would certainly make it more complete for someone accustomed to eating meat.

As we head into Fall I love the idea of one-pot meals that are filling and wholesome and somewhat traditional but with a twist. I also love the idea of leaning into a less meat-filled diet and of packing more nutrients and fiber into my recipes where ever I can.

This dish is meat-free, packed with fiber from the red beans, filled with nutrients from the kale and has a savoriness, or “umami” if you will, not necessarily associated with a meatless meal. It also happens to be topped off with dumplings which kind of distracts from the fact that it is filled with kale for people who “don’t like that green stuff”. (Like my husband)

This simple and savory dish started with a package of Hurst Family Harvest Bayou Cajon Red Bean Soup Mix which contains high quality, non-GMO beans and a flavor packet filled with spicy, smoky, all natural, gluten free ingredients and no MSG. It gets an extra boost of umami from dried mushrooms, gluten free soy sauce and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

gluten free recipes cornmeal dumplings with red beans and kale

Gluten Free Cornmeal Dumplings with Red Beans and Kale Recipe


1 packet Hurst Family Harvest Bayou Cajon Red Bean Soup Mix
1 onion, chopped
1 ounce dried porcini or shitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¾ cup gluten free flour blend
¾ cup corn meal
2 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup water
1 bunch green onions, minced – use divided
Crushed red pepper – optional garnish


Pour the beans into a pot, cover with warm water and let soak for 4 hours or over night reserving the flavor packet. Drain the water, add the onion, dried mushrooms, reserved flavor packet along with 10 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours or until the beans are tender. Add the soy sauce, pepper, kale and balsamic vinegar, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. You may need to add a little more water if you want your beans soupier.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, corn meal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the olive oil and water and whisk until combined and fairly smooth. Add ½ cup of the minced green onions and stir, reserving the remaining green onions for garnish.

Taste the beans and add some more salt and black pepper if needed. Drop the cornmeal mixture onto the simmering beans by big tablespoonfuls. Cover the pot and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve with the remaining green onions and some crushed red pepper flakes if desired.


A gluten free recipe that serves 8.

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Categories:    Main Dishes

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Ricki September 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

For me, “meaty” really means “hearty” or “substantial”–I am never thinking about the flavor of meat when I use that adjective! To me, umami is something else altogether. And the only time I would refer to the texture would be so that meat-eaters would have an idea of what my recipe is like (as with my faux ground meat that I used in lasagna or tortiere). Now, THIS dish sounds fabulous to me–meaty, but no meat, and tasty and umami and hearty all at once! A must-try (though I guess I’ll have to sub for the soup mix. . . sigh). And of course those dumplings look to die for!


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm

OK, well now I have the expert opinion! Thanks Ricki. My son is a vegetarian but he does it for health reasons and he actually likes meat so his opinion doesn’t count – he always wants things to taste “meaty” :)


Kalinda September 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

I love dishes made of beans and greens. So simple, yet so good for you. Love the addition of the cornmeal dumplings. Looks great.


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Kalinda.


LIVI September 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

Umami sounds so so SO much better than meaty…I have to agree that that word just sounds gross! I used to be vegetarian and experimented with “meaty” foods but honestly I liked the simplest things best…like pasta with pesto sauce and sautéed meaty substances needed:)


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Thanks and I think if I were vegan or vegetarian, I would agree with you!


Shirley @ gfe September 24, 2011 at 8:32 am

I’m all about these cornmeal dumplings for sure, Carol! :-) I don’t know that I’m qualified to talk about “meaty” or “umami,” but when I make vegetarian or vegan dishes for main meals that my carnivore husband will like, I’m looking for satisfying and hearty so that the meat is not missed. Beans and mushrooms are usually successful in that area. My vegetarian/vegan “chili with the mushrooms” is one of his favorites. :-) And mine, too … I love that I feel satisfied, but I don’t feel “weighed down” after eating it. Great-looking meal, Carol!



Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Shirley!


Nancy September 24, 2011 at 8:51 am

Carol, I scratched my screen…I swear I could smell the aroma!
My hub’s loves anything with red beans! This is an automatic winner..will make this week! Thanks


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Haha and thank you Nancy!


Nancy@ September 24, 2011 at 9:44 am

Carol, This looks incredible. I’m always trying to sneak vegetarian dishes in on my husband too. I’ve tried making cornmeal dumpling before without success, so I’m anxious to try this recipe. Thanks, Nancy


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Thanks Nancy – these are pretty easy. Let me know what you thibnk if you make them :)


InTolerant Chef September 25, 2011 at 1:31 am

Great idea with the dumplings, I’ve had a big pot of beans simmering away all weekend and they would finish the dish perfectly, yumm…


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Yes, they add some heartiness to a pot of beans!


Kim (Cook It Allergy Free) September 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I am not vegan, but if I were I do not think I would really be looking for that “meaty” flavor or texture. I agree with Ricki in that I think of “meaty” as being hearty, more than anything. And these dumplings sound absolutely AMAZING!! ;)


Carol Kicinski September 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Thanks Kim!


Wendy @ Celiacs in the House September 29, 2011 at 9:51 am

Oh, Carol. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, but I love soup, beans, and kale. When you throw in some dumplings, you’ve got my attention. I made the first pot of soup of the season yesterday. With our temps dropping into the 30s this weekend, we’ll be ready for another pot and now I’ve got to have dumplings.


Carol Kicinski October 6, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Wow, temps in the 30s?!? Ours just dropped into the high 70s and I have already been making soup :)


lisa dawn October 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm

dear carol, it is such a great question you ask. as a vegan, and a cook (and blogger) for my family, i hesitate to use any meat type names in my recipes. so i would never say “mock” anything or “meat” or “butter”. i love your recipes and will be making your pb cookies (with a flax egg) and the african stew soon. plus this one! thanks for sharing! lisa


Carol Kicinski November 1, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thank you Lisa!


debbie September 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I think of “meaty” as being a dense, chewy texture. I can see where the savory flavor aspect comes in, but I think it’s more about density. At least when I use it.


Carol Kicinski September 16, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Thanks, that makes sense!


Renata January 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I have been vegetarian (and now vegan) most of my life and I love “meaty” and fake meat and all of that, though generally (now) avoid a ton of it because of its being processed. I am extremely against factory farming and the horrible abuse of animals within the nightmare of meat production. I am also environmentally-concerned. And I have never been healthier! I just never understood why a vegetarian or vegan is not supposed to desire or love ‘meaty’ or meat texture or even taste. I love it all. I just have a heart and soul and a conscience. Thanks for this great recipe!


Carol Kicinski January 23, 2013 at 5:19 pm

Thanks! My son is so much healthier since adopting a vegan diet, it is really wonderful! Enjoy the recipe!


Doug Newsman April 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm

One question – is the Red Bean Soup mix gluten free?
It does not say so but for it not to be would defeat the purpose of the recipe.


Carol Kicinski June 1, 2015 at 3:52 pm

Hi Doug, Yes! haha you’re correct that would defeat the purpose, it is in fact gluten-free. Enjoy!


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