I first ate pierogi about five years ago, when my friend Alina made them for me. They were a vegetarian’s dream: gorgeous pillows of thin dough filled with either mushrooms and sauerkraut or mashed potato, fried onion and ‘twaróg’ (Polish white cheese). I can imagine they were also dreamy for my friend, who was feeding a large group of people, with me being the only vegetarian. The great thing about dumpling-type food is that you can adapt the filling to your guests’ diets and preferences.
Since then I’ve eaten many a pierogi and, as much as I love both mushrooms and sauerkraut, the potato and cheese ones quickly became my favourite. But then I went vegan and, well, egg in the dough, cheese in the filling… It looked like my pierogi days were over.
Cue aquafaba. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s the cooking liquid of chickpeas (and other beans/pulses), which acts just like egg in lots of dishes and bakes. One of the first things I used it in was a vegan cake, which turned out absolutely perfect, but then I realised it might also work in pierogi dough. And you guessed it, it worked a treat. I added 6 tablespoons of aquafaba (or ‘AF’), the equivalent of two eggs, to a dumpling recipe I found in Sally Butcher’s ‘Veggiestan’, and the result was a brilliant soft, pliable dough.
Now the second challenge was the filling, which my friend makes ’60/40′, meaning 6 parts potato to 4 parts cheese. I decided to try substituting the cheese with soy yogurt and again: bullseye!Together, dough and filling form delicious vegan pierogi, which I feel are in no way inferior to the original. My Polish friend, who introduced me to pierogi, agrees. :-) A note on how you cook these: you can boil, bake or fry them (and steam, I’ll bet). I tend to go for healthy options when it comes to food, but I really feel these are best when fried in oil, like I’ve done here.
Makes about 30 pierogi
For the filling
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
200 g soy yoghurt (I think oat yogurt would also work, but it might need a squeeze of lemon juice, as it’s a bit sweeter)
salt, plenty of (to taste)
pepper, not too much (to taste)
For the dough500 g all-purpose flour
1 level tsp fine salt
2 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
90 ml/6 tbsps aquafaba (simply pour straight from a tin of chickpeas into a measuring cup)
160 ml water
I start by making the filling (but feel free to start with the dough, it needs resting).
– Boil the potatoes for 15/20 minutes, until cooked through.
– Meanwhile, fry the onion in a bit of oil until slightly brown around the edges. Set aside.
– When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash with the soy yogurt, salt and pepper.
– Stir the fried onions into the filling mixture.
– Check seasoning (it should be a quite salty, imo) and set aside, covered.
I use my standing mixer for the dough, but you can also make it by hand
– Put the flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer.
– Combine aquafaba and water. I put the AF in a jug, then top up with water to the 250 ml mark.
– Using the paddle attachment, mix flour and salt.
– Leave the machine running while you add the oil and then gradually pour in the AF/water mixture. The dough should just come together. Add a sprinkling of water if it doesn’t, but not too much(!); it should not be as wet as bread dough.
– Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
– Once kneaded, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
– Take a clump of dough (about 22 g), flatten it into a disc and roll out to about 10 cm on a (very) lightly floured surface. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the disc.
– Pick up the disc with the filling on it and, using your fingertips, gently pull the dough over the filling and pinch it shut (think pasty, empanada, etc.). Then take a 6 cm round ravioli cutter or a glas with a 6 cm diameter and cut the edges off your dumpling, creating a neat pierogi that won’t open while you cook it. (see photos).
– Heat a layer of oil in a wide frying pan and put in half a batch (about 15) of pierogi. Fry for a few minutes until golden, flip and fry for a few more minutes.
– Take the pierogi out of the pan and drain on kitchen towel before serving.