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The best recipes are made from shopping your fridge

Meredith Deeds | Star Tribune (TNS)

Sometimes dinner arises from a well-laid plan that includes time for a leisurely trip to the grocery store.

The same cool, calm cook who put together this plan then casually chops and dices everything perfectly — probably with one hand, while cradling a glass of wine with the other — before tossing it all together in a hot pan and arranging everything perfectly on warm serving plates. Sounds great, but it’s not how my week went.

Mine was a lot less planned and a lot more hectic. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I had to get dinner on the table and I didn’t have time to run to the store, so I had to shop my fridge. And my fridge wasn’t giving me many options. I had cottage cheese, eggs, butter and asparagus.

I thought about just whipping up some scrambled eggs, but then I remembered a Ukrainian friend of mine telling me about an easy dumpling recipe her mother used to make using farmer’s cheese: “lazy” vareniki.

While traditional vareniki are similar to pierogies, this easier version skips the pasta-like dough that holds the cheesy filling and cuts right to the chase. The result is something like ricotta gnocchi.

Farmer’s cheese is typically drier than cottage cheese, but the latter is what I had in the fridge, so I figured it was worth a shot.

I mixed the cottage cheese with eggs, flour, salt and baking powder, to lighten the dumplings just a bit. I let the dough rest for a few minutes to give it a chance to firm up enough to handle. Then I rolled the dough into snakes and cut them up into small pieces.

I put a pot of salted water on to boil, then gently simmered the dumplings until they were cooked through.

I worried that they might fall apart in the cooking process, but that didn’t happen. Instead, they held together beautifully and what came out of the pot were pillowy, tender dumplings with a cheesy flavor that didn’t need a complicated sauce.

To make them a meal, I simply sautéed the asparagus and browned some butter with a little lemon zest and juice. I tossed the cooked dumplings into the pan and let them brown just a touch. Voilà!

Did I look calm, cool and collected during the process? No, but I did have a delicious dinner, and a glass of wine. Or two.

Easy Cheese Dumplings in Lemon-Brown Butter Sauce with Asparagus

Serves 4.

Somewhere between gnocchi and Ukrainian “lazy” vareniki, these cheesy, light, pillowy dumplings get their tangy flavor from cottage cheese. A simple brown butter lemon sauce and sautéed asparagus round out the meal. From Meredith Deeds.

For the dumplings:

  • 2 c. (16 oz.) cottage cheese, 4% fat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

For the sauce:

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Directions

In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt and baking powder. Stir to combine. Add the flour and stir until a soft dough comes together. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt.

Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust a work surface with flour.

With floured hands, bring dough together on the work surface into a large log. Divide log into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick rope, rolling from the center of the dough outward. Cut rope into 3/4-inch-long pieces and transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, dusting work surface with flour as needed if the dough becomes sticky.

Coat another large, rimmed baking sheet with oil. Reduce heat on the pot of boiling water to bring to a simmer. Gently drop half of the dumplings into the water and cook until all pieces float to surface. Continue to gently simmer until dumplings are cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes longer, adjusting heat to maintain gentle simmer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer dumplings to the oiled baking sheet. Repeat cooking process with remaining dumplings.

Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat in a 12-inch skillet. Add asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the remaining 5 tablespoons butter to the skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and has a nutty aroma, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add lemon zest and dumplings, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dumplings brown lightly. Stir in the asparagus and lemon juice and cook, stirring, another minute. Divide among serving bowls and serve hot.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.

©2024 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Source: Berkshire mont

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