It is officially fall in North Carolina now, although I thought it would never come. I had almost started complaining about the lack of cool weather, but now that it’s upon me, I deeply regret any frustration that I had about wearing shorts in October and still needing the AC sometimes during my commute. Now all I want to do is crank up the heat, curl up under a blanket on the sofa, watch Homeland and eat warm, hearty food.
My kitchen has been cranking out plenty of hearty food as of late. I recently got a Dutch oven (which I will discuss further another time), and it’s gotten quite a bit of use in the two short weeks I’ve had it: soups and stews and root vegetable purees that reminded me that obscure root vegetables are obscure for a reason.
The first cold weather food I really craved, though, was dumplings. For some reason, I think this is odd, but it actually really does makes sense. Dumplings have some qualities similar to comfort foods we tend to want: They’re warm, carby, quite easy to eat and quite tasty. Although they take a bit of work to put together, you can make a big batch (I always make a big batch) and freeze a bag or two to treasure for later and/or a night when you just can’t do dinner. Trust me, you’ll be happy that you took the 30 or 45 minutes to put the filling in the wonton wrappers once you realize how many meals the bag of dumplings in your freezer will supply.
Notes: You could halve this recipe, but you’ll be disappointed when your freezer bag empties twice as fast as it would have if you made the whole recipe.
If you know how to fold dumplings the correct way, but all means do so! I’ve tried a lot and failed miserably (perhaps also because I don’t use real dumpling wrappings), and the fold-over method works.
Also, if you can get your hands on real dumpling wrappers, by all means do. Grocery stores close to me don’t have them (I’ve checked all three…going to three stores for one ingredient is the worst) so I make do.
6 ounces button mushrooms
2 large heads of broccoli
½ sweet or yellow onion
5 scallions, white and light green parts
4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 16-ounce package slaw mix
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 14-ounce package firm tofu
about 80 wonton wrappers (most likely 1 ½ packages of these)
1. Finely chop the mushrooms, broccoli, onion and scallions. You want very small pieces of each vegetable so you get a bit of everything in each bite.
2. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat about 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add all of the vegetables to the pan. After the vegetables have begun to wilt, about 5 minutes, add the soy sauce. Continue to cook until all of the vegetables are soft and combined.
4. Crumble the tofu into the vegetables, and mix well. Remove from heat, and let the filling cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Now it’s time to assemble the dumplings. With a bowl of water beside you, use your finger trace the outside edges of the wonton wrapper, dampening the edges. Put about 1 ½ tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the wrapper, and fold it in half. Be sure to press the edges together well. Repeat until all of the filling is used, laying the dumplings on a sheet pan in a single layer. Freeze the dumplings that you aren’t going to eat immediately on the pan, and once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. The dumplings will keep in the freezer for a couple of months.
6. To cook the dumplings: Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add several dumplings, enough to fill the pan but not crowd it. Immediately add ¼ cup water and cover the skillet. Cook about 4 minutes (if fresh) or 8 (if frozen), until the wrappers are soft and the filling is hot. Remove the lid, and continue to cook for a minute or two to brown the outside, if desired.
7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or minced scallions, if desired, and dip in soy sauce.