Friday, January 7, 2011

Recipe: Piroshki Italiano - an Italian take on a Russian tradition

Disclosure: I'm neither Italian nor Russian. Also? Potato is not a traditional filling for the piroshki and, while common now, it wasn't available in Russia back in the day. I'm pretty sure you don't come here for history lessons (mostly because I'm wholly unqualified to teach them), so I'm sending you to Wikipedia for the history of the piroshki.

Let's just say this cross-cultural experiment was inspired by the piroshki, and altered in accordance to what Sexy Vegan Mama had on hand - which was decidedly Italian-ish.

Also, I understand you can fry these, but I abstain from frying as much as possible. It has nothing to do with my waistline (Shut up!) and everything to do with my fear of hot grease spatters and second-degree burns. So, I baked them. (Seriously. Shut up.)

My kids grubbed these down, by the way, and I was able to use some leftovers in a creative way.
Here's what I did:

Sexy Vegan Mama's Piroshki Italiano

Dough Ingredients (I modified this recipe from An Orthodox Kitchen to utilize whole wheat flour and adjust for my preferred ingredients and methods.):

1 c. plus 2 T. warm water ("baby bath water warm")
2 T. yeast

1 t. cane juice crystals or vegan sugar
4 T. olive oil
1 1/2 t. salt (I use a fine sea salt, but any salt will do. It prevents the dough from rising too much.)

3 c. whole wheat flour

Filling Ingredients (I didn't measure, just threw these in with abandon, and actually made too much filling. I see pot pie in my future.):

1 c. leftover mashed potatoes or scalloped potatoes (I used scalloped potatoes with basil and "sour cream" - a recipe for another post)
Handful whole kernel corn
Handful cooked or canned kidney beans
A few florets of broccoli, chopped small
Half a red bell pepper, diced
Half an onion (if you aren't using scalloped potatoes), diced
1 or 2 Tofurky Italian Sausage, chopped into small bits
basil to taste
oregano to taste

Optional, but recommended:

Red pasta sauce for dipping

Directions (dough):

Pour water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over top. Allow yeast to dissolve. Stir, then add sugar, oil and salt. Stir until sugar and salt dissolve.

Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly. When dough is too stiff to stir, pull up your sleeves and use your (clean, please!) hands to knead the sucker. Continue kneading until all flour is mixed in, adding more flour or water as necessary to make an elastic, stretchable dough that isn't too sticky... but don't over-knead the dough. (Don't you hate when cookbooks say that? I never knew what it meant until I over-kneaded the dough once. It means don't knead and knead until the dough becomes tough and hard to work with, losing its elasticity. So, don't do that, okay?)

Let dough rest for ten minutes before rolling out.

Roll to about 1/8 inch and cut into 6" to 7" circles. (I used the rim of a margarita glass!)

Directions (filling):

Mash potatoes with a fork if using scalloped potatoes instead of mashed. Add additional ingredients and mix well.

If your filling is very dry, add a bit of vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream) or red sauce to make it a bit more moist. And, hey - if you go with the red sauce, might as well throw some vegan cheese shreds in there, too! (I like Daiya Deliciously Dairy-Free.) Suddenly, it's more calzone than piroshki, but we're not going for authenticity, here, right?

This is a good time to preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Directions (assembly):

Place about one tablespoon of filling on each dough circle.

Fold circle almost in half, but not quite. Roll bottom edge of dough tightly around the upper edge of dough, then use your fingers to "crimp" the rolled edges. (See photo.)

Use a fork to poke small vents in the top of each piroshki (I like to make a "V," for "VEGAN"), then space slightly on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until top crusts just begin to brown slightly.

Serve with red sauce for dipping and watch the kids go nuts.

This made 16 for me. It will make more or less for you, depending on how thickly or thinly you roll your dough.

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  1. It's awesome that you also added step by step directions! It makes life so much easier :D
    I really like the sound of that filling and I do love potatoes...hehe

  2. i'm form Romania and back home we call this pirosci, I had no clue they have Russian origin.

    your piroshki sound and look so good, with I'd have one right now.

    Thanks for sharing,
    hope you'll have a wonderful day


  3. These sound delicious! Even better that they are vegan and baked ;)!

  4. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    @cake - A big part of the reason I blog these recipes is because I don't have a recipe card box, but I do have a short-term memory. I have to write everything down step by step so I can look the recipes up again when the kids ask for them! :)

    @GreenGirl - I'd love it if you'd share a recipe you have for pirosci!

    @Amy - They were the bomb. Anything the kids ask for seconds on is a winner around here. We only ("only!") have six kids left at home, but each have different tastes, so when I find something they all like, it's a small miracle. :D