Pea Vine Dumplings

Excerpted from Apartment Gardening Many cultures include savory cakes and dumplings in their cuisine. My family in Croatia eats burek—a strudel-like dough filled with a savory filling like meat and onion, or something sweet like apples. When I was little, my Aunt Janet used to fry us up some frites filled with ham and mozzarella, just as she learned from her Italian mother-in-law. Really, any dough stuffed with something and fried is guaranteed to be the bomb. Pea plants are easy to grow in containers, and while you grow them for the peas, you can also clip tender vines from the plant to sauté. This recipe takes that one step further and makes use of older pea vines that are strong and slightly woody. Normally we would never eat them, but broken down and cooked in this recipe, they shine. These fried dumplings are a great way to use the entire plant. You can use other hardy greens for this recipe—wild dandelion greens would work. (If they are very bitter, temper their bite with a sweet vinegar like sherry or some honey before adding to the dumplings.) This is a dumpling dough, not a yeasted dough, so it will not be soft and flaky. Be sure to let the dough rest for at least an hour before shaping and frying. If you don’t want to be stuck waiting while the dough rests, make it the night before, cover it with plastic wrap, and leave it on the counter overnight.

Makes 12 dumplings   Dough 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour Pinch salt 1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water

Filling 2 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup) 1/2 pound pea vines, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups) Scant 1/2 cup water 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

Mix the flours and salt in large bowl or pulse in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the water in increments and work by hand until the dough comes together or, with the mixer running, add a little bit of water at a time until the dough comes together in one ball. Once you have a ball of dough, knead on a floured work surface until the dough is elastic and smooth, about 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit on the counter for at least an hour, up to overnight.

To make the filling, cover the bottom of a large saute pan with the olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Add half of the onions and all of the pea vines and cook, stirring often, so the pea vines and onions do not stick. Once the pea vines are fairly broken down and the onions are beginning to soften, add the water and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan. (Because the pea vines are thick and woody, you are cooking them down to soften them.) Cook covered, until the pea vines are soft and the water is nearly evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid and turn up the heat to dry out the greens and onions and steam off any extra water. Stir often. When the pan is dry and the greens are beginning to stick, transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the remaining onions, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool.

To make the dumplings, cut the dough into twelve small pieces and roll into balls between your palms. Lightly flour your hands if the dough sticks. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out balls of dough into small rounds 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Working with one round at a time, place a spoonful of pea vine filling in the center. Fold the dough in half. Working from the middle out, press the sides together to create a seal. (By doing this, you are pushing out any air to prevent the dumplings from breaking open while they’re frying.) You can pinch the edges with your fingers or use the back of a fork to press a design in the dough and make sure the seal holds.

Over medium-high heat, heat about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a deep-sided saute pan. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, slip in about four dumplings—as many as will fit without overcrowding—and fry until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip over with a slotted spoon and fry the other side until golden brown, about another 5 minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper bag. Fry the remaining dumplings and serve hot or at room temperature. The dumplings can be made several hours ahead and fried when ready, or frozen, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag, to fry at a later date.

More Garden Recipes: Older pea vines can also be cooked as above and used as a side dish. Omit spices and instead add a handful of toasted pine nuts and a squeeze of lemon.