By Torie Gehrig
Native Foods Cafe
I don’t know about you guys out there in the warmer parts of the country, but here in Chicago it’s cold. Like, scary cold. When it’s this frigid outside I get a hankering for two things: multiple screenings of Dr Zhivago and the hearty comfort food of Eastern Europe!
Unfortunately, eggs, cream and meat are central ingredients in the traditional versions of many Eastern European dishes. However, with a little innovation and some help from Google search, I found some pretty easy vegan alternatives for these snowfall suppers. My favorite? The pierogi.
Not only is this traditional Polish dish a guaranteed crowd pleaser, it’s also budget friendly and, as an added bonus, the dumplings are super fun to make! So grab your kids or a few of your friends and tuck in to this delicious recipe!
Tool’s you’ll need:
1 large pot
1 large skillet
1 cookie cutter or drinking glass about 3 inches in diameter
1 rolling pin (a wine bottle also works)
1 cutting knife
1 potato peeler (a sharp knife can also be used)
4 large potatoes (peeled then roughly chopped)
2 nice sized yellow onions (peeled then finely chopped)
3-4 cloves of garlic (peeled then minced)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup of nutritional yeast
Pinch of organic brown sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Rosemary and thyme to taste (optional)
2 cups of all-purpose flour (get unbleached if you can)
½ cup of vegetable oil
½ cup of warm water plus 2 more tablespoons
1 tsp of salt
1) Begin with the dough. Put all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and combine them well. After that, knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth. Then, (very important!) place a towel over the bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes,
2) Place the peeled and chopped potatoes in large pot and fill it with water so that the potatoes are submerged. Cover the pot with a lid and place on the stove under medium-high heat. The water will eventually boil, but you can tell the potatoes are done when they are soft enough to be speared easily with a fork. At that point, strain the water with a colander and place the potatoes back in the pot (OFF of the heat). If you don’t have a potato masher you can use a fork (really anything will do, they don’t need to be perfect.)
3) Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet under high heat. Add the garlic and the onions and sauté on high for about a minute before turning the heat down to medium. I like to caramelize my onions by adding a little bit of brown sugar, but this is not mandatory. After a few minutes, your kitchen is going to start smelling really, really good but it’s important to watch the onions closely and periodically mix them around to ensure they don’t burn. They will be done when translucent and soft to the bite.
4) When the onions are done, add them to the mashed potatoes along with the nutritional yeast, some salt, pepper and rosemary/thyme (if using). Mix well.
5) Separate the dough into two parts (keep the half your not currently using covered in the bowl). Roll out the first half on a well-floured surface until the dough is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Then, using a cookie cutter or the brim of a glass, cut out little circles. If you had trouble getting your dough thin enough, you can pinch the dough circles to stretch further stretch them out.
6) Place about 1 teaspoon or so of the filling at the center of the circle, then fold the two edges together to create a half moon shape. Make sure the edges are sealed to ensure no stuffing comes out. You can also use a fork to crimp the edges.
7) Repeat step 5 and 6 with the second half of the dough.
Traditionally, pierogies are either fried or boiled. If frying, heat some olive oil in a skillet and fry each dumpling until browned on each side. If boiling, simply place them in a covered pot of boiling water for a few minutes until they float. Can’t decide? Put them in the freezer! Pierogies keep super well and are easy to reheat!
Serve with a side of organic applesauce and vegan sour cream. Delicious!
Recipe inspired by: