Small, moon-shaped dumplings called varenyky are a common sight in Eastern Europe. While a tender, rich dough is a given, this style of dumpling can be filled with anything from potatoes to pickled fish. Verenyky are killer comfort food, especially with sour cream.
Susan Feniger's version in Street Food takes what could be a heavy appetizer and brightens it up with summer vegetables. Instead of overloading the dumplings with meat or starch, she brings zucchini and spinach together with earthy potatoes and tangy feta cheese. To top them off, Feniger makes a genius move and serves her verenyky with bright and bitter lemon marmalade. The lemon cuts the richness of the buttery dough, highlighting the herbaceous spinach, sweet zucchini, and briny feta.
Why I Picked This Recipe: Zucchini is overflowing out of markets right now, and these dumplings seemed an excellent way to work through the bumper crop.
What Worked: The addition of the lemon marmalade was brilliant, transforming a simply good dumpling into a resplendent bite.
What Didn't: Mixing and rolling the dry, crumbly dough was a challenge without adding extra liquid.
Suggested Tweaks: Next time, I'd dial back on the flour a bit in the dough or else add a little extra sour cream.
Reprinted with permission from Susan Feniger's Street Food by Susan Feniger. Copyright 2012. Published by Clarkston Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- Yield:serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 2 1/2 hours
- Total time:3 1/2 hours
- For the Dough
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 3 1/4 cups (16.25 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- For the Filling
- 2 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 8 equal pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion, minced
- 2 1/2 pounds zucchini, grated (4 cups)
- 2 bunches fresh spinach, roughly chopped (8 cups)
- 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sour cream, for serving
- Lemon Marmalade, for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, for garnish
For the Dough: In a small bowl, mix the egg and sour cream together. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, beat the mixture while adding the butter, one piece at a time, until the flour starts to come together in small clumps, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the egg mixture all at once. Turn the mixer on low speed again, and mix just enough to incorporated the egg mixture. Do not overmix or your dough will be tough. The consistency will be slightly crumbly and will resemble a pie dough.
Turn the dough out onto a flat surface. Knead it with your hands just enough to bring the dough together into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or for as long as 24 hours.
Divide the dough in half. Put one half on floured work surface; wrap the other half in plastic wrap and return it to the refrigerator. Roll the dough out into a round about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 12 rounds with 3-inch cookie cutter. Put rounds on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. Repeat with the other half of the dough to make 24 rounds total.
For the Filling:Put the potatoes and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a small saucepan, cover with water, and set over high heat. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender when poked with a fork. Drain, and set aside until cool enough to handle, 5 to 10 minutes. Grate the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater and set aside.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it is translucent and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. The onion will continue to brown; that is okay. Add the spinach and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour the entire contents into a colander, pushing on them slightly to expel some of the liquid. Let drain and cool in the colander for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing and stirring with a rubber spatula to drain as much of the excess liquid as possible.
When the drained spinach mixture is cool, put it in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated potato, feta cheese, and the last 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix gently to combine.
To Assemble:Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Put a level tablespoon of the filling in the center of each dough round. Fold the dough into a half-moon shape, and making sure the filling doesn't squeeze out, press the edges together firmly with your fingers to seal them. The dough is pliable, so if there seems to be too much filing, you can stretch it a little bit to fit around it. Repeat until all of the dumplings are filled.
Working in batches, boil the dumplings for 3 minutes and then drain, being careful that they don't tear. Set them aside on a tray lined with wax paper. (The dumplings can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day at this point.)
Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is frothy, add the dumplings so that they lie in a single layer. (You may have to do this in two or three batches, depending on the size of your pan.) Cook for just 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until they have a light golden brown sear and are slightly crispy.
To serve, spread a generous spoonful of sour cream across the center of each plate. Follow with a spoonful of the lemon marmalade. Put the dumplings on top, and sprinkle with the dill.