Vareniki-Russian Cheese Dumplings

Vareniki are basically a Russian version of pierogi, which originated in central Europe. Larger than the pelmeni and crescent shaped, these dumplings may be stuffed with anything, and most often are filled with either cheese, cooked meats or fruit jam. My version uses Berkeley-based cheese producer Belfiore’s Russian-Style Farmers Cheese. I also lighten the dish and brighten it up by adding Vodka Pickled Red Beets.

Photography By Cody Gantz | November 26, 2018

Ingredients

SERVINGS: Yield: About 30 dumplings
  • 1 batch dumpling dough
For the Filling
  • 1 cups farmers cheese
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions or scallions, sliced very thin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Topping
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Vodka Pickled Red Beets (see recipe on page 12 of this issue) or red cabbage sauerkraut
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, for coating the dumplings after cooking

Preparation

For the filling:

Place all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and mix until smooth and combined. Place in the freezer for about 30 minutes, allowing the mixture to firm up a bit before using.

For the topping:

Combine the chopped herbs in a small bowl and reserve until ready to use.

TO ASSEMBLE THE DUMPLINGS

Cut the rested dough into 4 equal pieces. (Note: If using refrigerated dough, let the dough come to room temperature before using.) Remove each piece of dough in its turn to a floured surface, keeping the rest of the dough under the plastic or covered with a damp towel. Roll the dough out to approximately ⅛ inch thick. Cut out circles of dough, using a 3½-inch round cookie cutter or small-mouthed glass. Using a small spoon, place 1 heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. Fold each circle in half circle and pinch and seal the edges together. Repeat these steps until all the dough is used. Place the sealed dumplings on a plate or baking sheet that has been generously dusted with flour or cornmeal, making sure the dumplings do not touch each other or they will stick together.

TO COOK THE DUMPLINGS

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently place the dumplings in the boiling water and cook about 6–8 minutes, or until all of the dumplings have come to the surface and have been floating for a few minutes. Gently remove the dumplings from the pot using a large slotted spoon and place in a large bowl with the 2 tablespoons of butter. Gently roll the dumplings in the butter until well coated.

TO SERVE

Place the cooked dumplings on a serving dish or individual plates and top with a small amount of pickled beets or sauerkraut and a sprinkle of the fresh herbs. Top each with freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: Yield: About 30 dumplings
  • 1 batch dumpling dough
For the Filling
  • 1 cups farmers cheese
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions or scallions, sliced very thin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Topping
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Vodka Pickled Red Beets (see recipe on page 12 of this issue) or red cabbage sauerkraut
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, for coating the dumplings after cooking