Updated: Mar 26
Despite all the changes and their constant rediscovery, dumplings like vareniki are popular and cherished because of their irresistible combination of humble yet silky dough complemented with a simple filling. Whether enjoying lovely farmer's cheese (tvorog), mashed potato, sweet and tart berries, those simple fillings combined with the skill and labor into shaping these phenomenal delights, are nothing less than a manifestation of love by those who make them. Typically, it is our mothers who we attribute to the hundreds of dumpling recipes found all over the world.
I grew up eating vareniki made by my mother or grandmother at least once or twice a week. Made mainly using white flour and which was served either for dinner, lunch or even breakfast. I love all kinds of dumplings and my boys do too. Pre-making and freezing them for emergency meals is something I practice all of the time.
Last year I posted vareniki filled with savory fillings Vareniki (Pierogies) Stuffed with Farmers Cheese and Herbs. I also like to use for stuffing My Mom's Braised Cabbage with Oyster Mushrooms & Caraway Seeds: Vegan & Gluten Free, Savory veggie filled dumplings make for a nice rustic dish that suits my vegetarian guests.
Also, for meatloaves I recommend checking these posts:
But today I'm digging deeper into my Ukrainian roots and will share with you the recipe that not me, but my grandparents grew up on.
As you are aware, I'm always on the search for a healthier way to feed my family and myself. Last year for Christmas I got a gift from Santa, a mill to grind my own flours.
Since then, my breads are more nutrient dense. A few weeks ago I milled corn kernels for the dish called Southern Cornbread With Kefir, which is an easy and quick bread.
Prior to the twentieth century, white flour would have been reserved for those of nobility, as peasants couldn't afford to sieve out the bran (which would have made up a significant proportion of the flour). Although it turns out, of course, that the less refined flour was richer in nutrients and supplied the energy needed for working in the fields. Then, when the Soviets introduced collectivized farming and the food supply was more industrialized, bleached white flour became the norm. Buckwheat flour, which featured heavily in early Ukrainian recipe books, also went out of favor. In my kitchen I use spelt all of the time, for bread making mostly.
Spelt, an ancient grain, is sweeter, nuttier, and more nutrient dense than regular wheat. It has none of the whole-wheat flour's bitterness.
According to the USDA, the combined effects of many different antioxidants of blueberries rank among the top 20 highest sources of antioxidants. In addition to antioxidants, blueberries are a low-calorie and fat-free source of fiber, B vitamins and essential minerals.
In my family blueberries are a freezer must item. We love to eat them in so many ways. Picking blueberries with my boys and freezing pounds and pounds of these berries is now a tradition.
Before I moved to the South I had no idea blueberries could grow in a hot weather climate. Luckily they do grow here and plus the source where we pick them is 100% organic. Last year I posted two blueberry recipes, one savory and one sweet.
Note on freezing and serving the dumplings
To freeze dumplings for future use, lay them out on a plate or baking sheet generously dusted with flour or on a layer of wax paper. Freeze until they are completely hard, and then transfer to a freezer bag and they will last for up to three months.
I like to serve them swimming in melted butter or brown butter, and topped with dollops of crème fraiche.
Vareniki can be served the next day reheated in a pan until they are nicely crispy and brown on each side.
And the last thing to complete the beauty of this dish is a blueberry sauce. Pouring this sauce on top of hot dumplings is absolutely irresistible.
Let's do it...
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 5-6 minutes
Total time: 46 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Yield: About 72 dumplings
Ingredients for the dumplings
4 cups of whole spelt flour (I made my own, see note above)
1 cup of kefir or plain yogurt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon of salt
5 cups of blueberries fresh or frozen
1/2 - 3/4 cup of raw cane sugar
8 Tablespoons of butter (for serving a whole batch)
1 cup of crème fraiche, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (for serving)
Ingredients for the blueberry sauce
1 cup of blueberries fresh or frozen
juice of one lime
1/4 cup of raw cane sugar
To make the dough, mix together the flour, eggs, salt, and kefir an electric mixer or by hand. Knead until the dough comes together. Form the dough into a disk and cover with plastic wrap or place into a zip lock bag. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.
For the filling mix berries and sugar together.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces using a dough cutter and work with one piece at the time. Keep the rest of the dough covered to prevent it from drying out.
With your hands, roll the dough into a thin sausage-looking shape. With a generous amount of flour on your working space, place your sausage-looking shaped dough on the workspace and start cutting the dough into pieces with a dough cutter, just eyeballing to make sure every piece looks the same size and shape (it looks very much like Italian gnocchi).
Using a rolling pin roll each piece into disks that are the size of a pancake. Place one teaspoon of filling, about 4-5 blueberries in the center of each disk. Bring one edge of the dough over to meet the other and seal the edges to form a half-moon. Make sure that the edges are securely pressed together.
Repeat this process with the remaining pieces of dough.
When ready to cook, bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. Drop the dumplings into the water, making sure not to crowd them by working in batches. Bring water back to boiling then lower the heat to a simmer and cook them for 4-5 minutes or until they swim back onto the surface of the water.
Meanwhile, to make a brown butter, in a pan melt the butter (not all the butter unless you plan to cook all vareniki at once) and cook the butter on low heat for a few minutes, or until it becomes an appealing golden color.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the dumplings from the water to the pan with the brown butter, stirring them gently, so each piece will be equally coated with the brown butter. Then cover the pan with a lid and leave for a minute.
To make the blueberry sauce, place all ingredients into a saucepan and using low heat gently bring the sauce to a boil, cooking uncovered for a few minutes.
Serve right away with a dollop of crème fraiche and blueberry sauce.