Meatless Monday: Pierogies
There are lots of foods I say are my faves, but there is one meal that is really my favorite. A meal I’ve probably had fewer than 45 times in my 30 years of life. One that I never thought I would successfully make vegan. That meal? Pierogies. Specifically, my mom’s recipe for pierogies. She learned to make them from her Bubba (grandma), who frequently made them on Fridays when my mom was growing up.
|pierogies are an unfortunately un-photogenic food|
While my mom got to eat pierogies quite often when she was growing up, for most of my life the amazing, labor intensive dumplings have been reserved for Good Friday. It’s a fast day for Catholics, and in my family, we save our one meal of the day for yummy, buttery pierogies, which we dive into after the Good Friday service at church.
Since I went vegan, pierogies are one exception that I’ve made in my diet. Once a year I indulged in cheesy mashed potatoes, wrapped in rich, egg noodle dough and swimming in butter and caramelized onions. It turns out, though, that my mom’s pierogi recipe is easily veganized, without losing any of the richness, flavor or texture. A most amazing feat; one that my mom and I are quite proud of. At first glance, the recipe seems difficult and complicated. It’s not. The first time or two that you make the recipe, you’ll need to follow it closely and read through everything. By the third or fourth time, you’ll know how to do everything by feel and it will be super simple. I promise.
Before you jump in and make this recipe, there are a few things you’ll want to know:
1. Pierogies take a long time to make. Even if you make just a single or double batch, you need to make the mashed potatoes, cut and fry the onions, make the dough, roll and cut it, fill with potatoes, and pinch the dumplings closed. Then you need to boil them. Pick a day when you have time. Make a double or triple batch (or more). Share them with friends or put them in the freezer (before you boil them) for another day. If you try to rush them, you’ll just end up frustrated. Trust me, the time and effort is worth it in the end.
2. We have only made this recipe using Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. I can not vouch for the success you’ll have with any other egg replacer.
3. There are not exact quantities for making the mashed potatoes, since the amount you’ll need is entirely dependent upon how thinly you roll the dough, how large you cut the pieces of dough and how full you stuff them. Also, you want the mashed potatoes to be stiff, but not lumpy. Use very little, or no “milk.” We just use potatoes, vegan cheddar cheese, salt and pepper; and we whip them well.
4. There is nothing optional about the caramelized onions and you need to make them with a ton of vegan butter. This is not a low calorie or low fat meal, nor is it intended to be. Pierogies are not diet food, and they’re not meant to be eaten every day. Make them once or twice a year and indulge.
5. Pierogies are simple, peasant food. They are not supposed to look perfect (no matter what any person, recipe or package says). Put away the biscuit cutter. Don’t trim the dough, before cutting it. Seeking perfectly shaped dumplings will take more time and you’ll just end up working the dough more than necessary (which will make them tough). Accept that you will have unevenly sized, sometimes wonky looking pierogies. It makes the process easier and more delicious (trust me).
And now, on to the recipe:
about 1 cup of cheesy mashed potatoes
1 large yellow onion, diced
at least 1 cup of vegan butter
1 cup flour
1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer + 3 tbsp water (whisk together and allow to sit for a couple minutes before using in the recipe)
1/2 tsp salt
about 1/4 cup cold water
Slowly saute the onions in the butter over low-medium heat, until caramelized. While the onions are cooking, prep the dough. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the egg replacer and mix with your hands until mostly incorporated. Turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and add water a little at a time; mixing with your fingers until the dough comes together.* Then knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands and it forms a smooth ball. If you are making more than one batch, divide the dough (i.e. a triple batch should be divided in thirds). Allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes.
|working in the egg replacer|
|egg replacer mixed in;
ready to be turned out onto the work surface
|water has been worked in; ready to knead|
ready to be divided and rested
Roll out the dough on the floured surface until it’s very thin (less than an 1/8 inch thick). Then cut into squarish pieces, about 1 1/2-2 inches wide. Place a small dollop of mashed potatoes in the center of each piece of dough. Dip your finger in a little bit of water and run it along the edges of each piece of dough, then fold over and pinch tightly to seal each dumpling.
|cut dough; ready to be filled|
|adding the mashed potatoes|
You can cook the dumplings right away or allow to sit on a clean, lint-free dish towel to dry first (we make the pierogies before church, then cook them after). When you’re ready to cook them, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt as you would for any pasta and gently drop several into the boiling water. Do not crowd the pot. We cook 8-10 at a time in a 6 quart pot. Cook the pierogies until they float for a minute or two. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in an oven safe dish. Spoon some of the caramelized onions and butter over the cooked pierogies and transfer to a warm oven, to keep them hot while the next batch is cooking. Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked. Serve with any remaining onions and butter. Yum!
|the steamy cooking process
(vegan onions and pierogies on the right; non-vegan on the left)
|just out of the pot|
|ready to eat|
|my little pierogi eaters|
*The exact amount of water you’ll need will depend on the moisture in your flour and the humidity in the air on the day you make the recipe (much like baking bread). Don’t fret. Add the water slowly and if you add too much, just work in a little more flour. You don’t want to get too far from the proportions of the recipe, but there is certainly some wiggle room.
Please forgive the lackluster photographs. My mom’s kitchen is painted yellow, which makes it all but impossible to get decent pictures. Even Picnik couldn’t save these photos.
If you’ve got a meatless recipe to share (vegan or vegetarian), be sure to link it up below. Happy Meatless Monday!