Recently, Brett and I spent an amazing 10 days in Moscow! We had been looking forward to this trip for just under a year as we applied for our visas at the Russian embassy in Barcelona last Spring. While in Moscow, we indulged in all the delicious foods, and I fell head over heels in love with Vareniki! Vareniki can only be described as the most mouthwatering, savory dumplings on the planet. If I'm being honest, I probably had over 50 plates of these bad boys, and I regret nothing.
Once we arrived back in Spain, I was all too happy to try out a mix of some recipes to perfect the most delicious homemade Vareniki in Spain! I spent the evening jotting around the kitchen, covered in flour and taste-testing the dough and filling. I want to share what I came up with, so you too can enjoy delicious Russian dumpling at your table! YUM.
First, a little back story on these drool-worthy dumplin's.
We can trace varenikis roots all the way back to their motherland--Ukraine! Ukraine cuisine is known for taking influence from Hungarian, Turkish and German dishes and absorbing them into one fabulous, unique and savory Ukrainian feast.
There are several types of dumplings throughout the region such as pelmeni, pierogi and of course, vareniki. Today, we are specifically diving into vareniki. While they are eaten all over Russia and Eastern Europe, they are said to originate from Ukraine. To my knowledge, vareniki and pierogi are the same things. (correct me if I'm wrong!) They are different from Pelmeni(Russian) in that they are almost always vegetarian. Typically stuffed with vegetables and served as an appetizer or main dish, they can also be made sweet! You can fill these puppies with soft, sweet cheese or cherries to create an amazing and unique dessert!
People all over the world have a pallet for for stuffed-dough-ey goodness. I mean, c'mon, Chinese Dim Sum, Italian Ravioli, Tibetan Momos, Georgian Khinkalis, Russian Pelmeni, German Kartoffelknoedel, and Polish Pirogis!
So, let's get down to bid-ness.
The dough is obviously essential to the recipe. I tried a few different techniques with and without certain ingredients like egg and sour cream. I will share the one that worked best for me, though it's hard to make a bad batch ;)
I've seen people do it letting the dough rest for 10 minutes, or sometimes, not at all and it being fine. However, I let it rest under a towel for about 30 minutes. Either way is fine!
While the dough is resting, you can prepare your filling. Today, we are making a potato and mushroom filling.
You will need potatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic and dill for the filling. I got some great fresh veggies for this batch! I mean, look at those mushrooms! Strangely enough, the recipe doesn't call for soil, though. You will need to wash them!
While the potatoes are boiling, saute the mushrooms, garlic and onion. Your kitchen will smell AMAZING in no time :)
Now for the fun part! Rolling out and making the cutest little dumpling pockets.
The one on the right is a cream cheese experiment that I am still working on ;) Cottage cheese is a very popular filling, but it is nearly impossible to find where we are in Spain! We are very limited on grocery options, so I have to get creative. The one on the left is the delish potato mix.
Now add to boiling water and let the magic happen! You can add bay leaves, peppercorn or broth for added flavor. I messed around with bay leaves and they came out great!
Boil for about 3-5 or until they float. Shouldn't take too terribly long in small batches. I did about five at a time. Simply remove with a slotted spoon and prepare to serve.
Top with butter and, of course, loads of fresh dill! The butter should melt naturally, but if not, just warm it in a skillet. I used the same skillet that I sauteed the onions in and wow.
I had so much fun experimenting with these batches! Here's Brett ready to taste test different batches! He is my test subject for controlled experiments in the kitchen. Haha.
I made tons of small batches for us to sample and I have to say, they were all good.
I am unashamed to say that I even made a small batch of 3 for Ollie. If I'm making something simple, I'll usually throw some ingredients together to make a pup-friendly bowl for my sweet doggo. I used some left over rice, broth, garlic powder and crushed dog treats to load the dumpling. Then topped with mini bones. Here he is wondering what Mom's up to with his treats!
Que nino bueno....
Anyway, back to the people food!
Like I said, I messed around with a few different methods and this recipe is the one we liked the most! Serve with sour cream and enjoy.
Flour, 3 cups
Extra Flour for absorption
Water, 1 cup
Oil, 3 tbsp
Potatoes, 5, medium
Mushrooms, 2 cups, chopped
Red Onions, 2, medium
Garlic cloves, 2, minced
Dill, 3 tbsp, chopped
Parsley, 3 tbsp, chopped
Butter, 1/4 cup
Cracked pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
Serve with sour cream and optional pale ale
Add any of the following to the boiling water for added flavor.
Dry bay leaves, peppercorn, broth
Combine dry ingredients for dough. Add egg, oil and water. Stir until combined and then knead. Continue to add flour until you are able to knead without the dough sticking to your fingers. Set aside and cover with a towel. Let the dough sit for about 10-30 minutes.
Prep your potatoes like you're making mashed potatoes. Half them and added to salted, boiling water. Let them boil for about 20 minutes or until they are tender. Drain the water, add your dill and get to mashing. Feel free to play up the seasoning!
While your potatoes are boiling, dice up your onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add the butter, onions and garlic to skillet until browned and fragrant. Then, add in your mushrooms and saute. Add pinches of salt and pepper to your liking.
Combine your skillet with mashed potatoes and mix. Add parsley, cracked pepper and a pinch of salt. I LOVE cracked pepper so I add a lot. But add as much as you like. Taste test as you go! They should taste like amazing mashed potatoes and be firm enough to roll into a small ball.
Dust clean surface with flour and roll out dough. Once your dough is rolled out, take a circular glass and start creating your pockets! Press the glass rim into the dough and create your circles. The circles should be roughly the size of your palm.
Take a tablespoon of your filling and roll it into a ball. Place the ball in the circle and fold in a half moon shape. Feel free to get creative and make twists or indentations along the pressed folds.
Set large pot of water to boil. Optional: add your bay leaves, peppercorn or broth to water. Regular salted water is fine, too.
Add your vareniki 5 at a time and boil for 3-5 minutes.
Remove with slotted spoon, top with butter and fresh dill. At times, I'll melt the butter for a minute or two in the pan that I fried the onions in and it is delicious! Otherwise, just top the dumplings with it and it will melt!
Serve with sour cream and your choice of drink. A simple pale ale goes great with these!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! I can't get enough of these delicious dumplings! They have become a staple in our kitchen.