Falafel Varenyky

Lebnaese Varenyky

A few years ago, I found this beautiful, mostly plant-based food blog, called The New Baguette. After many years of following her on Instagram, I finally messaged Alex, who runs The New Baguette, hoping that we could collaborate on fun recipes together. After bouncing a few ideas with each other, Alex told me about varenyky, Ukrainian stuffed dumplings.

I have always been intrigued by dumplings from different cultures. Empanadas from Mexico. Mandu from Korea. Sambousek from Lebanon. Ravioli from Italy! They are all basically savory fillings, wrapped in a dough, and living in Greenpoint, I eat my fair share of Polish pierogis.

Alex is Ukrainian, and when she introduced me to her take on traditional varenyky with potato filling and fried onions, I immediately thought of ways to add my Lebanese twist — falafel!

We decided to have fun with the recipes by making different falafel fillings with different doughs. Since it was our first time making this together, we weren’t sure how these would come out, but we were pleasantly surprised how delicious they were. Herbaceous, fresh flavors of falafel fillings worked so well with chewy, crispy dough.

For Basic Falafel Varenyky, I kept things simple but added a bit of turmeric to the dough for extra color. The falafel filling is a standard falafel recipe, so if you want to make falafels, you can simply omit the dough and fry the filling alone. Just like making dumplings, you add the filling and close the dough into a half-moon shape and pinch the ending so that they are stuck together. It’s super easy and no need to feel intimidated!

Now you have the basic version, have a little fun by adding different flavors and mix & match! Alex and I made two other varieties, inspired by the original.

Dipping-GIF.gif

These varenyk are great as they are, but they are even better with flavorful dipping sauce. Alex has a great recipe, cilantro-lime tahini dressing, which pairs so well with these varenyk. It’s tangy, bright, and just full of flavors!

Tabbouleh

 
 

Tabbouleh

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup fine white bulgur

  • 3 bunches of parsley

  • 3 scallions

  • 3 tomatoes, finely chopped

  • ½ english cucumber

  • 3 lemons, juiced

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium bowl, place bulgur and cover with room temperature water. Let it sit for 20 minutes, it should double in size.

  2. Meanwhile, wash and finely chop parsley and place in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Wash and peel cucumber, slice in half. Using a spoon, de-seed the cucumber. Slice the cucumber length-wise into thin strips and chop it into small dice. Add to the parsley.

  4. Small dice tomatoes and add to the mixing bowl.

  5. Thinly slice scallion and add to the bowl.

  6. Drain and squeeze bulgur – make sure it is completely dry.

  7. Add to the mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Mix until fully incorporated.

  8. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses.

Basic Falafel Varenyky

lebanese-varenyky-2.jpg

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough

  • 1 egg lightly beaten

  • 2/3 cup (5 oz) water

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp of turmeric

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Basic Falafel Filling

  • 3 cups soaked raw chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 1 cup parsley

  • 1 cup cilantro

  • 3 scallions

  • 1 tsp lemon juiced

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 3 tbsp flour

  • 2 tbsp falafel seasoning (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, white pepper)

  • Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the dough

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the egg, water, turmeric, and salt until fully combined. Gradually add about 2 ⅔ cups of the flour and stir to combine into a shaggy dough.

  2. Using your hands, gather the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough with the heels of your palms until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands, sprinkling on more flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl, loosely cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the Falafel

  1. In a food processor, add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, scallion, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until well combined. 

  2. Add lemon juice, baking powder, flour, and seasoning. Pulse for one additional minute until all combined.  

Make the Varenyky

  1. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll the dough into a thin log about 10 inches long and 1 inch thick with your hands. On a floured surface, cut the log into approximately 12 1-inch pieces. They look similar to gnocchi.

  2. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll each piece into an approximately 3-inch circle; if the dough is sticking to the surface of the rolling pin, dust with more flour.

  3. Working with 1 circle of dough at a time, place 2 tsp of the falafel fillings into the center. Gather the dough into a half-moon shape around the filling and pinch the top closed, then pinch both edges closed. Place the shaped varenik on a well-floured board or tray and continue filling the rest of the dough.

Cook the Varenyky

  1. Add 2 cups of vegetable oil (or canola oil) in a medium-sized skillet and heat up oil until it reaches around 350F.

  2. Add one varenyky at a time to shallow fry. Cook until the edges are golden brown for 2-3 minutes each side.

  3. Serve immediately along with dipping sauces of your choice, or cilantro-lime tahini dressing.

Curry Green Peas Falafel Varenyky

lebanese-varenyky-2.jpg

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough

  • 1 egg lightly beaten

  • 7 oz water

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp of za’atar

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Curry & Green Peas Falafel Filling

  • 3 cups soaked chickpeas

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • ½ cup parsley, chopped

  • 3 scallions

  • 1 tsp lemon juiced

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 3 tbsp flour

  • 2 tbsp curry powder

  • 1 cup green peas

  • Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the dough

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the egg, water, and salt until fully combined. Mix flour and za’atar and gradually add about 2 ⅔ cups of the flour mixture and stir to combine into a shaggy dough.

  2. Using your hands, gather the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough with the heels of your palms until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands, sprinkling on more flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl, loosely cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the Falafel

  1. In a food processor, add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, scallion, and parsley. Pulse until well combined. 

  2. Add lemon juice, baking powder, flour, and curry powder. Pulse for one additional minute until all combined. Fold the green peas in the falafel filling.

Make the Varenyky

  1. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll the dough into a thin log about 10 inches long and 1 inch thick with your hands. On a floured surface, cut the log into approximately 12 1-inch pieces. They look similar to gnocchi.

  2. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll each piece into an approximately 3-inch circle; if the dough is sticking to the surface of the rolling pin, dust with more flour.

  3. Working with 1 circle of dough at a time, place 2 tsp of the falafel fillings into the center. Gather the dough into a half-moon shape around the filling and pinch the top closed, then pinch both edges closed. Place the shaped varenik on a well-floured board or tray and continue filling the rest of the dough.

Cook the Varenyky

  1. Add 2 cups of vegetable oil (or canola oil) in a medium-sized skillet and heat up oil until it reaches around 350F.

  2. Add one varenyky at a time to shallow fry. Cook until the edges are golden brown for 2-3 minutes each side.

  3. Serve immediately along with dipping sauces of your choice, or cilantro-lime tahini dressing.

Sumac Aleppo Pepper Falafel Varenyky

lebanese-varenyky-2.jpg

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough

  • 1 egg lightly beaten

  • 5 oz water

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper

  • 1 tsp paprika

  • 1 tbsp of sumac

Aleppo Pepper Filling

  • 3 cups soaked chickpeas, overnight

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • ½ cup parsley

  • 3 scallions

  • 1 tsp lemon juiced

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 3 tbsp flour

  • 1 tbsp falafel seasoning (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, white pepper)

  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (more if we want it very spicy)

  • Salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the dough

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the egg, water, and salt until fully combined. Mix pepper, paprika, sumac, and all purpose flour together. Gradually add about 2 ⅔ cups of the flour mixture and stir to combine into a shaggy dough.

  2. Using your hands, gather the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface. Knead the dough with the heels of your palms until it is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands, sprinkling on more flour as needed, about 5 minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl, loosely cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the Falafel

  1. In a food processor, add raw chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, scallion, and parsley. Pulse until well combined. 

  2. Add lemon juice, baking powder, flour, falafel seasonings, and Aleppo pepper. Pulse for one additional minute until all combined.   

Make the Varenyky

  1. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll the dough into a thin log about 10 inches long and 1 inch thick with your hands. On a floured surface, cut the log into approximately 12 1-inch pieces. They look similar to gnocchi.

  2. Using a flour-dusted rolling pin, roll each piece into an approximately 3-inch circle; if the dough is sticking to the surface of the rolling pin, dust with more flour.

  3. Working with 1 circle of dough at a time, place 2 tsp of the falafel fillings into the center. Gather the dough into a half-moon shape around the filling and pinch the top closed, then pinch both edges closed. Place the shaped varenik on a well-floured board or tray and continue filling the rest of the dough.

Cook the Varenyky

  1. Add 2 cups of vegetable oil (or canola oil) in a medium-sized skillet and heat up oil until it reaches around 350F.

  2. Add one varenyky at a time to shallow fry. Cook until the edges are golden brown for 2-3 minutes each side.

  3. Serve immediately along with dipping sauces of your choice, or cilantro-lime tahini dressing.

Chicken & Fig Tagine

Chicken & Fig Tagine

The perfect winter stew, made to satisfy everyone. Full of different flavors and spices it opens up the smell of the house. It can be made in a crockpot and forgotten about, or cooked for 1-2 hours with a result of tender chicken, and vegetable goodness. Tagine has a long history in Moroccan cuisine, and here I have simplified it for the average cook without stripping any flavors away.

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup flour

  • 5 tbsp tagine spices

  • 2 tbsp salt (or more to taste)

  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 3 tbsp EVOO

  • 3 medium sized onions, peeled and large diced

  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 cup raw chickpea, soaked overnight and drained

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and large diced

  • 1 quart chicken stock

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 3 tbsp fig jam

  • 2 cinnamon sticks

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 lemon, juiced

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, mix flour, 2 tbsp of tagine spice, and 1 tbsp of salt. Pat dry the chicken thighs and combine them with the flour and spice mixture.

  2. In a large heavy bottom pot, melt 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of EVOO over medium heat. Once it’s hot, increase the heat and cook the chicken, for 4-5 minutes, until each side is brown. Once the chicken is all brown, set them aside.

  3. In the same pot that you cooked the chicken, cook onions and garlic with 2 tbsp of EVOO over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the onions are translucent. Make sure to scrape the chicken bits while you are cooking onions.

  4. Add the chickpea to the pot. Cook them for 3-5 minutes. Then, add carrots, 3 tbsp of tagine spice, and 1 tbsp of salt. Cook everything together for another 6-8 minutes until vegetables are getting tender.

  5. Add the chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

  6. In a small bowl, mix warm water with fig jam. Once the tagine is simmering, add the fig water, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and simmer for anoter 30 minutes.

  7. After simmering, add the reserved browned chicken to the pot and cook for another 30-45 minutes.

  8. Transfer the tagine to a serving bowl and finish it with a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

Garlic & Thyme Roasted Potatoes with Brown Pearl Onions

1902_190204_EMassihTest1335_s.jpg

GARLIC & THYME ROASTED POTATOES WITH BROWN PEARL ONIONS

Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, and this is my go-to Mediterranean way to prepare them. They are fantastic side dishes along roasted chicken, branzino, and even lamb.

 Total Time: 30-35 minutes
Serves: 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs mini potatoes, cut in half

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 6-7 sprigs of thyme

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

  • 4 tbsp EVOO

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 bag of frozen pearl onions

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set your oven to 425F.

  2. Mix cut-up potatoes, garlic, thyme, juiced and zested lemon and EVOO in a bowl, and throw them on a parchment-covered sheet tray. Season them with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake them in the oven for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are golden brown.

  4. While the potatoes are in the oven, melt the butter on a pan over medium heat and sauté the pearl onions until the outside gets brown for around 15 minutes.

  5. Once the potatoes are done, combine them with pearl onions.

  6. Enjoy!

Moroccan Couscous

1902_190204_EMassihTest1329_s.jpg

MOROCCAN COUSCOUS

An easy and healthy side that goes with any chicken, fish, or lamb dish! It’s an alternative to rice and will spice up your dish.  

Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 people
Yield: 4-5 cups 

INGREDIENTS

·     3 tbsp EVOO

·     1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped

·     ½ cup shallot, peeled & chopped

·     2 cups couscous

·     1 tbsp turmeric

·     3 cups water, or chicken stock

·     ½ cup raw pistachio, crushed

·     3 tbsp mint, chiffonade

·     salt, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

1.     Heat olive oil, in a medium saucepan over medium heat

2.     Add chopped shallot, cook for 1 minute then add garlic.

3.     Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until translucent.

4.     Add couscous, turmeric and salt, stir until the couscous is a bright yellow color.

5.     Add water or stock, cook with lid on, for 15 minutes or until the couscous has absorbed all the water.

6.     Stir in the pistachio, taste for seasoning.

7.     Serve the couscous in a bowl, finish with a drizzle of EVOO, squeeze of lemon, and fresh mint!

8.     Enjoy!