By Cat, May 2009 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
This is one of my all time favorite vegetarian recipes, from Anna Thomas’s great cookbook, The Vegetarian Epicure (1). The first time I tried it (back in the 1970s), I was a bit skeptical about the complex mix of flavors in this dish, but by the time I’d finished that first pie, I was hooked.
The original recipe is for a pie with top and bottom crusts. I’ve also adapted it for Pierogi, which are single-serving pocket-pies or dumplings wrapped in a crust, and are common throughout eastern Europe and Russia. Traditionally they can be made with or without meat. I just love this vegetarian (but not vegan) version. I often include it in my “Breaking the Fast” schedule (part of a veggie juice fast), when I can add dairy to my regimen.
- Includes: 1. Russian Vegetable Pie; 2. Variation: Pierogi
- See also: 1. Vegetarian & Bean Main Course Menu; 2. Ethnic Recipes Menu (scroll down to Eastern Europe & Russian section); 3. Borscht(as an accompaniment)
- See Russian Vegetable Pie & Pierogi-pdf for a printable pdf version of this recipe
Crust: This cream cheese crust behaves differently than a regular pie crust dough. I prefer to let the cream cheese and butter warm together to room temperature, then mix them together before cutting into the flour. Then let it rest, wrapped in waxed paper, overnight on the counter. When rolling, beware of rolling it too thin, as it will easily tear when you spread the cream cheese layer over the crust.
I’d like to test this crust recipe, using sprouted wheat pastry flour or sprouted spelt flour which I get from Granite Mill Farms (2).
Cabbage is a very versatile vegetable; I use red cabbage for this recipe, but green fall cabbage also works well. When I use red cabbage, it tends to color the egg whites a bit, which I find amusing; but if you’re going for presentation, use green or white cabbage. Harvested fall cabbage can be stored in a root cellar through most or all of a winter, so you can make this recipe any time of the year. And, this recipe freezes well for future re-heating.
Mushrooms: I generally use fresh button or Crimini mushrooms for this, but when I can get them, I like to try wild mushrooms. Or reconstituted dried oyster mushrooms are also delicious.
Herbs: The herb mix is very good, but I use more herbs (upper end of the range) than called for in the original recipe (low end of the range). Dill is a must.
Serves 4 – 6
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
- ¼ cup unbleached white flour
- 1 tsp Unrefined sea salt
- 4 oz softened cream cheese (total of 8 oz including for the filling, below)
- 3 Tbsp softened butter
- 1 – 2 Tbsp water (optional)
- 1 Tbsp yogurt (for presoak only)
- 1 small head cabbage (about 3 cups, shredded)
- ¼ lb mushrooms
- 1 yellow onion
- ¼ – 1 tsp each: dried basil, marjoram, tarragon (or 1 – 3 tsp fresh)
- ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt & ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 4 oz softened cream cheese
- 4 – 5 hard-cooked eggs
- medium bowl
- pastry cutter or fork
- large cast iron skillet
- 9” deep dish or 10″ quiche pan
- Presoak pastry (optional): Prepare as per next step (cutting butter and cream cheese into the flour), then mix 1 Tbsp each water & yogurt and cut into dough. Add more water if necessary to form the two balls. Wrap in oiled parchment (or natural waxed paper), cover with cloth and rest on counter overnight before rolling out.
- Prepare pastry: Sift together flours and salt. Let butter and cream cheese warm to room temperature, then cream together and cut into the flour. Add water if necessary to form a ball. Divide dough into two balls, one larger a little larger than the other.
- Roll out the larger ball and line a 10″ pan. Roll out smaller ball to make a circle large enough to cover the dish; put it away to chill.
- Filling: Hard-boil the eggs, peel, cover, and set aside in the refrigerator.
- Bring cream cheese to room temperature.
- Shred cabbage coarsely; peel & chop onion, and add to cabbage. Wash & slice mushrooms; set aside separately.
- Melt 2 Tbsp butter in skillet. Add onion and cabbage; sauté for several minutes, stirring constantly. Add crushed herbs, salt and pepper, to taste. Stirring often, allow the mixture to cook until the cabbage is wilted and the onions soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add another Tbsp butter to the skillet, and sauté mushrooms lightly for about 5 – 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Form and bake pie: Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out bottom crust and arrange in pan. Add filling in layers:
- Spread softened cream cheese in bottom of pie shell.
- Slice eggs and arrange in a layer over cream cheese.
- Sprinkle with a little chopped dill weed, then
- Cover with the cabbage mixture.
- Make a final layer of the sauteed mushrooms and cover with the circle of pastry.
- Roll out top crust and arrange on top of pie.
- Press pastry together tightly at the edges, and flute them. With a sharp knife, cut a few short slashes through the top crust.
- Bake in preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350°F. Continue baking for another 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is light brown.
(Photo, left, from Wikimedia Commons)
These remind me of Irish pasties in look, but the mix of flavors is different. While the original recipe (above) is made as a single 9″ pie (I use a 10″ quiche pan), it can also be made as individual pierogi. Wikipedia describes pierogi as dumplings (boiled or steamed), but in my experience, they are single-serving pocket pies, baked in an oven.
Traditional size (about 3 ½”), you will want to fine-chop the eggs, or press through a sieve, and mix together with mushroom-cabbage mixture. Roll pastry into circles about 4″ in diameter; arrange filling on one third of the circle (leaving pastry extending about ½” from the filling. Moisten exposed pastry around filling, then fold other ⅔ of pastry over, as a mound, and crimp together around the crescent. Arrange on buttered baking sheet, and bake at 375°F, 25 – 30 minutes.
Larger individual pierogi, about 6″ in diameter, make either in small pie tins, or using the same method as for the traditional size. For these larger pierogi, you can make the layers, but you may wish to chop the egg rather than use slices. Bake on buttered baking sheet or individual pie tins at 375°F, 25 – 40 minutes (this is a guess; not yet tested).
Assembly or Serving ideas
- Excellent served after a light Borscht.