Recipe: Perogies with spinach-feta filling

Kasey Wilson offers up a pierogi recipe that will entertain

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In the spring of 2013, I spent three weeks travelling throughout Ukraine with a busload of Canadians who were of Ukrainian descent. Except for me, that is. My father was Icelandic and I was definitely an outsider.

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We flew to Lviv and travelled to Kyiv, where we boarded a local ship to Odessa and three things stood out for me. First, Ukraine reminded me of the Canadian prairies where I grew up, but it was greener. Second, the people were as friendly as Manitobans and I have a fond memory of a backyard garden party. Third, the host of the garden party, who was from Saskatchewan, and his Ukrainian wife were incredibly hospitable. I remember him saying as we sat down to eat in the garden, “You will never taste pierogi like these — they’ve never seen the inside of a fridge”.

All this came back to me when I opened a copy of Tables & Spreads: A Go-To Guide for Beautiful Snacks, Intimate Gatherings, and Inviting Feasts by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel.

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This user-friendly cookbook has a pierogi recipe that’s perfect for guests who gather in the kitchen and want to help create the meal.

“I’m a pretty big introvert, so this is how I like to hang out with friends, because it kind of gives you a mission,” says Westerhausen Worcel.

Three delicious fillings for pierogi from Tables & Spreads: A Go-To Guide for Beautiful Snacks, Intimate Gatherings, and Inviting Feasts. Photo: Shelly Westerhausen Worcel.
Three delicious fillings for pierogi from Tables & Spreads: A Go-To Guide for Beautiful Snacks, Intimate Gatherings, and Inviting Feasts. Photo: Shelly Westerhausen Worcel. Photo by Shelly Westerhausen Worcel /PNG

Perogies with Spinach-Feta Filling

The filling can be made the day before and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can easily half this recipe.

3 batches Spinach-Feta Filling

1 batch Basic Pierogi Dough

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

10 Tbsp (90 mL) butter or olive oil

2 bell peppers, any colour, sliced 2 red onions, sliced

Parsley, for garnish

½ cup (125 mL) sour cream

Place 1 cup of water to the side of your workstation. Put the spinach filling in a bowl and add 1 tbsp water to bowl. Divide the dough into five equal pieces.

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To assemble by hand: Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll the dough into a rectangle that’s about 1⁄8 inch thick. Use the rim of a 3-inch glass or biscuit cutter to cut out about 10 rounds. Place 1 to 1½ tsp of filling in the centre of each round, then dip a clean finger or a pastry brush into the water and run it along the edge of the dough. Fold the dough over to form a half-moon and use a fork to press the edges together. Transfer to a floured baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining filling and dough (rerolling dough scraps as needed).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add enough pierogi to fit in a single layer and boil until they float, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside

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In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbsp of butter. Working in batches, toss in enough pierogi to fit in a single layer. Cook, stirring often, until they are brown on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pierogi, adding 1 Tbsp more of the butter per batch.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large non-stick skillet and add the bell peppers and onions. Sauté for 7 to 10 minutes or until softened. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Place the pierogi on serving trays, garnish pierogi with parsley, and set the trays on the table. Transfer the sautéed onions and peppers, sour cream, to their own serving bowls and place on the table. Add serving utensils to each of the bowls and serve right away.

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Serves 12 to 15

Spinach-Feta Filling

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

5oz (140 g) fresh spinach, roughly chopped

8oz (250 g) feta crumbled

8oz (250 g) ricotta, crumbled

2 tbsp (25 mL) whole milk

freshly ground black pepper

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until just starting to turn brown and fragrant. Add spinach and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, tossing often, or just until all the spinach has wilted. Remove from heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the feta, ricotta, milk and pepper until combined.

Once the spinach has cooled, remove any excess liquid by wrapping the spinach in a clean dish towel and wringing it out over the sink. Transfer spinach to feta mixture and stir until evenly incorporated.

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Yield: 2½ cups

Pierogi Dough

6 cups (1.5 L) flour

1 cup (250 mL) whole milk

¾ cup (175 mL) butter, cut into cubes

2 eggs

½ tbsp (7.5 mL) fine sea salt

In food processor, combine flour, milk, butter, eggs and salt and pulse until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add more flour, 1 tbsp. at a time, if the dough is too sticky. Add more milk, 1 tbsp. at a time, if the dough is too crumbly.

Transfer dough to a floured surface and divide into four equal pieces. Wrap the dough in a damp kitchen towel and set aside until ready to roll out.

Kitchen hack: To freeze raw pierogi, dust them with a little flour on both sides and place on a tray in a single layer, so they are not touching each other. Freeze for four hours and then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze up to three months.

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