Potato Cheddar Vareniki with braised Cabbage and Prosciutto, a welcomed dish for those evenings limited in time and energy levels a bit low. In less than 20 minutes you have a delicious and hearty meal full of unique flavors and textures!
Potato and Cheddar Vareniki with Braised Cabbage and Prosciutto. A delicious meal that has both substance and interesting flavor combinations, that can be done in less than 20 minutes, using market bought Vareniki.
Vareniki are a Russian dumpling made with different fillings from onion and potato, to cabbage and onion and the ones we chose potato cheddar. Vareniki are a more delicate dumpling than a perogy but still pack a substantial carb kick, which is great for those long winter nights and temperature drop below freezing.
I had my first perogy, believe it or not, when I was in high school, which was in the early eighties, now I am dating myself. My brother had a girlfriend who was Ukrainian, and one day I was invited over for lunch where Debbie, that was her name, prepared some perogies. I watched intently and this being a whole new experience for me enticed me even more. I remember bacon being sliced in small bits and sauteed in a pan. Then a whole yellow onion being chopped up and put in a pan with a load of butter, cooked until the onions were translucent and soft. That smell alone was music to my senses. Then in a pot of boiling salted water went these cute dumplings, that had potato and cheddar inside. I kind of laughed thinking these are some huge gnocchi. So actually these are Ukrainian gnocchi, lol, just kidding, it's the Roman in me. Back to the story, the perogies cooked for about 10-15 minutes, then she tossed them in the pan and sizzled them a bit with the onions and bacon. I was thinking these are definitely high in calories and fat, as I was quite lean in this time in my life, but thought what the hell the inner cook in me prevailed and I dove right in. I was told to place a dollop of sour cream and this was a fresh farm sour cream as Debbie's grandparents had a farm just an hour East of Edmonton. This area has such a huge Ukrainian population. There is even a miniature Ukrainian Village, which I have to say is like stepping back in time, to the age of settlers traveling across Canada in carriage and horse, wanting to find a place to call home. Thank god for those immigrants as they have brought many recipes both savory and sweet to our land, and also this creamy rich sour cream that sat on top of my perogies, onions, and bacon. Needless to say, there were amazing fat content and all, and so my relationship with these dumplings began whether it was perogies or vareniki. As time went on my mother had made a lot of cultural friends and vareniki or perogies became a regular at our festive Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. All hand made by my mother and her friends.
Now for the truth, we did not make the vareniki. We bought them from a vendor at The Old Strathcona Farmers Market: Marina's Cuisine, a cute stand selling many pelmeni (meat dumplings), cabbage rolls, of course vareniki (perogies), and so much more. I know some may think your a food blog and you bought premade. Well, there are some times that the work and effort that it takes to prepare things, photographs and recipe preparation has us exhausted and wanting a bit of a break. So tonight's the night. There is no shortage of creativity though as I scanned the fridge to see what I could do to kick up these potato cheddar vareniki up a bit. I saw purple cabbage, and some prosciutto, and always onions in our vegetable crisper. I am excited to get this going.
I start of getting a large pot of salted water to boil. Remember taste the water for saltiness. In a sauce pan I braise the onion and red cabbage with a bit of olive oil and butter, salt, pepper and dill. I throw in the prosciutto just about at the end, as not wanting to burn it or cook it into oblivion. In a pot of boiling water I place the potato cheddar vareniki, and cook them till they are floating to the top of the water. I take them out with a slotted scoop and throw them in the pan, and on low to med heat toss them a bit. Then onto a plate for serving. Nicoletta came up with a great idea of grating some lemon zest onto it, and I have to say that was a fabulous idea. We even added some organic good quality sour cream to the top.
The flavors amazing. The bit of acidic sourness from the cabbage, combined with the sweet caramelized onion, a perfect sweet and sour dance. The silkiness of the potato and cheddar filling of the vareniki, luxurious to my tongue. The dough nice tender, not over cooked, and just that bit of prosciutto with its cured saltiness and pungent flavor adding a component to this dish that took it from delicious to outrageous. The best part, the lemon zest hitting the taste buds, cleansing the palate, in anticipation of the next bite. Let's not forget that sour cream, rich, velvety, slight acidic, a true companion to all the other ingredients. If you are vegetarian, then skip out on the prosciutto, it will still be amazing, I assure you. So when time is tight, maybe kids are screaming they are hungry and fainting, or maybe you and your partner have had a long hard week and a nice quick romantic simple dinner is needed. Pour a glass of wine, pull out those pre made potato and cheddar vareniki or whatever filling choice you love, and try this dish. I am sure our 20 minute Potato Cheddar Vareniki with braised Cabbage and Prosciutto, will be a go to any day of the week, whether romantic or not!
P.S. I am going to attempt making these lovely dumplings one day, stay tuned!
Song of the day: "Tonight's the Night" by Rod Stewart.Print
- 1 package of pre made potato cheddar vareniki (approx 20 vareniki)
- ¼ cup finely chopped prosciutto
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 table spoon butter
- ½ teaspoon dried dill
- Zest of one fresh organic lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a large 4 quart pan of salted water to boil. (taste the water for saltiness and add as needed).
Braises onion and cabbage:
- In a large saute pan drizzle in olive oil.
- Toss in onions and purple cabbage and saute till cabbage softens a bit and onions turn translucent.
- Throw in prosciutto and cook till prosciutto begins to render.
- Add in butter.
- Take off heat and set aside
- When water begins to boil toss in vareniki and cook for 5- 8 minutes or until they begin to float on the surface of the water.
- When vareniki are done take a slotted spoon and scoop them out and into the saute pan they go with the onions, purple cabbage, and prosciutto.
- Turn heat to a low to medium setting and mix well the vareniki and vegetables mixture.
- Place in a serving platter and top with lemon zest.
- A nice dollop of fresh sour cream to finish the plate off, and it is ready to serve.
- Serving Size: 4 servings
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