How To Make Low Fat Vegan Gluten-Free Perogies
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Gone are the days of the dinner party where whatever the hostess set out was certain to scarfed up without any "What is in this?" queries... or "is this organic? gluten-free? vegetarian? GMO-free? vegan? kosher? locally-grown?" And, even though I'm in the generation where, as a child, it was drilled in that "we don't make comments about the food" and "eat what is on your plate", etc., I am now one of those "what is in this?" people. My husband and I try to eat organic, low fat vegan, and food grown as close to home as possible. And so I was thrilled when our neighbour Tom gave us some beets (lots of beets, actually) and I was able to make some delicious organic, low-fat vegan, gluten-free borscht. You can find the recipe HERE.
But, what is Beet Borscht without Perogies?
Perogies are those little dumplings from Eastern Europe that contain any variety of fillings, often some combination of rice or mashed potatoes, onions, and mushrooms, some with meat, some with veggies only, and I've even seen perogies with fruit centers. But the perogies that I like the most in the world are filled with sauerkraut. They are hard to find in the store freezer, and expensive when you do find them. And certainly not low fat vegan and gluten-free. Or not that I have discovered.
So, I rifled through the Internet until I came up with a suitable Gluten-Free Perogy recipe, and then I adapted it to leave out the usual oils and eggs. I also didn't have a couple of the ingredients on-hand, so I subbed. This is what the recipe looks like:
- 3 Flax (or Chiaseed) Eggs (1 egg=1 T. Ground seeds in 3T. Water, Mix well)
- 1/3 C./40g Tapioca Flour
- 1/3 C./40g Fine organic Corn Flour
- 2 T. /13g Potato Flour
- 1 T. Xanthan Gum
- 1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
- Measure out the dry ingredients into a large bowl or a food processor (I used a food processor with a dough 'hook')
- Add in the 3 Flax (or Chia seed) Eggs
- If doing by hand, knead a little and form ball. If doing in processor, pulse until all ingredients come together into a nice dough-y ball. Scrape down sides between pulses.
- Dust a surface (I used a silicone cookie sheet) with Tapioca or Corn Flour and plop the ball of dough down there. Press out a little and then roll with a rolling pin to the thickness you like.
- Cut out round shapes with a cookie cutter or a glass.
- Put a small amount of filling in each circle (I used Sauerkraut-- other vegan ideas are found below). Wet your fingers and run around the perimeter of the perogy to seal it.
- Freeze the perogies on a tray in the freezer.
- Boil the soup or water and put in the perogies. Don't over-cook! Just shortly after they bob to the top of the boiling water they should be fork-ready.
Delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Perogy Fillings
The fun part of making perogies (from my point of view) is the creative possibilities for stuff that cooks inside the dumpling. Here are some ideas for you-- I'm sure you also have your own!
- Traditional Mashed Potato mixed with anything-- carrot shavings, mushrooms, parsley, chopped onion, roasted garlic, celery, chives, etc. Do a brief softening sauté (in boiling water in a fry pan) of the carrots, etc. Season liberally with salt and pepper
- Pickly Stuffing- this filling would include sauerkraut or any other pickle that grabs your fancy: beet pickle, banana pepper pickle, hot Polsky Ogorki (Polish dill pickle).
- Chestnuts Roasting: Be sure to get the edible chestnuts for this, and not the Canadian West Coast prolific toxic chestnuts (such a waste I think). Roast, shell, peel, and chop up with mushrooms and minced garlic. Salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, you choose what seasoning you prefer.
- Mediterranean- Combine cooked orzo or quinoa with cooked eggplant, tomato, red pepper, zucchini. Use Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Asian Comfort- Rice, peas, button mushrooms, tiny pieces of tofu, broccoli, shredded carrot, greens. Season with Chinese 5 Spices, Salt and Pepper.
My History with the Perogy
The dumpling I ate as a child was not the gummy little yummy little pocket of tastiness called a perogy, but more like a small knuckle of biscuit dough, floated on a greasy stew. I didn't meet the perogy (also written as perogi, pierogy, pierogi, pierógi, pyrohy, pirogi, pyrogie, or pyrogy) until I went over to a friend's place as a junior high student. Her mother had the kitchen table mounded in fresh-made perogies. They were interesting to me, but food was pretty much just something that fueled me then, not an obsession that it started to become in my adulthood.
At some point in my 30's I began to buy and serve up my idea of a "Ukrainian meal"-- frozen perogies from the supermarket, take-out cabbage rolls from a local Ukrainian food restaurant, and maybe a sausage or some borscht. Our older son loved perogies, and years later as a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESL) he took home-- to his small bachelor apartment-- his entire class once for a "Canadian meal"-- the high point of the repast being those supermarket frozen perogies smothered in sour cream.
In my early 40s I belonged to a Church community that was made up of many older women of Russian-Ukrainian heritage. Once a year they got together to make masses of perogies (I mean they made 3,000 in a day) as a Fall fundraiser for the school. This took the form of a community supper in which about half the perogies were consumed with oceans of beet borscht while the other half of the perogies were flogged by people running about, sometimes thrusting a bag of frozen perogies in your face, sometimes making urgent announcements from the microphone on the stage.
I did indeed "contribute" to the Fall Supper preparations, but not in any way that increased my culinary fame, or that resulted in my son turning away from the frozen supermarket variety and championing his mother's wonderful homemade-perogy-skills. I hid away in (in true Introvert style, I think) in a corner of the large communal kitchen chopping up onions or peeling beets or potatoes. I was a little intimidated by the animation of the event and listened to someone shriek, "No, no, you never put in the margerine before the...." or ask with a voice laden in accusation, "Who took my paring knife? That is my own personal paring knife," and such. I watched quietly from my corner, as they transformed goopy dough into smooth little, kneadable balls that could be rolled out quickly without any dough sticking to the rolling pin. I marvelled at how they could talk, roll, cookie-cut the perogy shapes, fill them all precisely, fold and seal, with none landing on the floor. Most of all I remember that quick accuracy.
And, although I eat mostly low-fat vegan and gluten-free, I still remember with great fondness the absolute melt-in-your-mouth yumminess of those heart-invested perogies (and yes, I often ate them smothered in fried onions and sour cream!)
I'm happy to say that this low fat vegan gluten-free perogy recipe is pretty delicious inspite of the lack of cheese and eggs and sour cream. Enjoy!