Last summer I had posted a recipe for Ukrainian dumplings called Varenyky. These are delicate flour pillows with sweet or savory fillings, my favorite being a potato and mushroom filling. Typically these are boiled and served with pan fried onions, and sour cream. The preparation for this delicious treat is well worth the effort, and you can make a big batch and freeze some for later. However, I often find myself longing for varenyky with none left in the freezer and not enough time on hand to make them. That's when I turn to a much simpler version - the lazy varenyky. No, I’m not making up the name. I found some recipes (even written in Ukrainian - so they must be authentic) that call this лінивий вареники (pronounced: linyvyy varenyky - meaning: lazy dumplings). These are very similar to gnocchi, but do not contain any eggs and lack the sophistication of shaping each one nicely as gnocchi typically are. Several varenyky recipes also call for eggs in the dough, but I find the dough without eggs to be lighter. So, I decided to make my lazy version also without eggs.
3 medium size potatoes
2-4 oz mushrooms, finely chopped (I like the taste a lot so I used about 4 oz, but if you’re not a big fan, reduce the amount or eliminate altogether)
1 tsp oil
¾ - 1 cup flour + more for dusting
~1/2 cup chopped onion
~1-2 tbsp oil
~1 tsp flour
Boil the potatoes; peel and mash them until very soft. Fry chopped mushroom in oil until they have released most of their moisture & reduced to half the original volume. Mix the mushrooms with the mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the potatoes are boiling, prepare the onion topping. This should be ready before the varenyky are cooked so you can coat them with the topping while they’re still hot. Fry the onions in oil over medium heat until golden brown. Add the flour and continue to fry for another minute before taking the pan off the heat.
To make the dough, add ½ cup of flour to the potatoes and mushroom mixture and knead into a soft dough. Keep adding a couple tablespoonfuls of flour until the mixture is no longer very sticky (it should still be soft). I ended up using just under 1 cup of flour to make the dough. Do not add extra salt to the dough because it will be boiled in salted water later.
Divide the dough into smaller portions and using your hands roll them out into long cylinders about 1” in diameter. Using a sharp knife cut pieces about ¾-1” in diameter. The size really doesn’t matter as long as you keep it consistent, otherwise they won’t cook at the same speed.
Heat water in a large pot over high heat. Add salt to the water just like you would for cooking pasta. Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add some of the lazy varenyky. The number will depend on your pot - just make sure you don’t crowd them too much. These literally take a couple minutes to cook, so keep a close eye on them and take them out when you see them floating at the top. It can be hard to see them floating when the water is boiling, so I take the pot off the heat and let the water simmer down for a few seconds so I can see whether the varenyky are still below the water surface or floating at the top.
Once they are cooked, immediately transfer them to a big bowl, and mix well with the onion topping, then serve garnished with chopped parsley.
Another delicious option is to pan fry the boiled varenyky with a little bit of butter until they’re golden brown. Either way you serve them, don’t forget to add a dollop of sour cream, without which any Ukrainian dish is incomplete!
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