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Vareniki

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Vareniki (Russian: вареники) are a kind of stuffed dumpling associated with Ukrainian cuisine. Some variants are also found in Belarusian, Russian, Lithuanian and Polish cooking.

Left: Vareniki with cottage cheese, served with sour cream.

Vareniki are believed to originate from Chinese and Siberian influences, although sometimes they are said to be of Turkish origin. Vareniki are similar to Polish pierogi, Russian pelmeni, and Italian ravioli.

Vareniki are square- or crescent-shaped dumplings of unleavened dough, stuffed with sauerkraut, cheese, mashed potatoes, cabbage, meat, hard-boiled eggs (a Mennonite tradition) or a combination of these, or with a fruit filling.

During preparation, the filling is wrapped with dough, boiled for several minutes, and then covered with butter or cooking oil. The name varenyk, in fact, simply means "boiled thing," from the adjective varenyy. In certain regions of Ukraine they do not boil vareniks, but cook them with the help of steam so that they become big and juicy. Vareniki are typically topped with fried salo bits (shkvarky) and onions and accompanied with sour cream (smetana). Left-over Vareniki may be fried.

Sweet, fruit-filled vareniki are served with sour cream and sugar. Raw vareniki (with the dough uncooked) can be stored frozen, then cooked in three minutes, which makes them a convenience food.

Other preparation methods include the Latvian tradition of glazing with egg white, baking, and serving with soup; the Mennonite tradition of baking and serving with borscht; and the Polish tradition of boiling, frying in butter, and topping with bread crumbs.

Vareniki come with a wide variety of either savory or sweet fillings.

Varieties of vareniki

Savory

Sweet

Potatoes
Mushrooms
Potatoes and mushrooms
Cabbage
Cabbage and mushrooms
Sauerkraut (sauteed)
Salty white cheese
Fish (salmon and pike-perch)
Meat (pork and beef mixture)
Meat and cabbage
Liver (beef)
Offal (beef lung, heart, liver)
Fresh white cheese (tvorog)
Cherry
Bilberry, or blueberry in North America
Raspberry
Strawberry

Savory varieties are usually topped with melted butter, sour cream, fried salo, and fried onions.

Sweet varieties are usually topped with melted butter, sour cream, and sometimes raspberry jam.

Try our Cottage Cheese (Quark) Vareniki recipe (an example of a sweet variety that can be served as a dessert):

Cottage Cheese Vareniki Recipe

 
Dough
Flour
2-3 cups
Egg
1
Salt
1/2 tsp
Water
150 ml
 
Stuffing
Cottage cheese 500 g
Egg 1
Salt 1/4 tsp
Sugar 3 tbsp

First make the dough and leave it to rest for 30 minutes:

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In a bowl, combine the cottage cheese with the egg, sugar and salt. The filling should be thick enough to hold its shape in a spoon:

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Roll out the dough quite thin on a floured board. Cut rounds with a large biscuit cutter or with the rim of a glass. Place a spoonful of the cottage cheese filling on the dough, fold it over to form a half circle or triangle, and press the edges together with your fingers. The edges should be free of filling. Be sure that the edges are sealed well to prevent the filling from running out.

Place the vareniki on a floured board or a kitchen towel (don't crowd them), and cover with a kitchen towel to prevent drying:

 

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Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil and add a few drops of vegetable oil to the water. Drop a few vareniki at a time into the rapidly boiling  water. Do not attempt to cook too many at a time.

Stir very gently with a wooden spoon to separate the vareniki and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Continue boiling for 3 or 4 minutes. If cooked from frozen, vareniki are boiled for 5 minutes.

Vareniki are ready when they are well puffed. Remove them to a colander and drain thoroughly.

 

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Place in a deep dish, sprinkle generously with melted butter, and toss very gently to coat them evenly with butter.

Serve in a large dish without piling or crowding them. The traditional accompaniment is sour cream or honey.

 

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Vareniki can also be made to the same recipe but without any sugar. This type of  savoury vareniki is served  topped with bread crumbs, sour cream and/or crumbled bacon.

 

Recipe source: supercook.org

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