Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
Dumplings are one of those foods that almost everyone likes—it’s hard to resist the contrast of a soft filling tucked inside a pan-crisped yet delicate exterior. So I thought I’d try a riff on this favorite, branching out from my usual go-to filling of ground beef or pork seasoned with soy sauce, scallions and ginger. Instead, this recipe swaps in sautéed and then cooked-down leeks and mushrooms seasoned with a kick of lemon and some rosemary, an herb that screams cozy season to me. Cheese gets folded into the mixture as well, adding more umami.
The recipe can easily be scaled up or down for anything from a quick snack to a light dinner to a full-on feast. If you scale up, you’ll probably have to make the filling in a large pot or Dutch oven if it won’t fit in your largest skillet. The recipe starts with melted butter, in which leeks are softened and slightly browned before mushrooms join in. The mushrooms bring an earthiness that feels right for fall while bulking up the dumplings with their meatiness. I used a mix of mushrooms including shitake, cremini and oyster, but you can use any type you’d like, or experiment with other vegetable combos. After being cooked in butter, the mixture gets hit with some white wine and then is simmered with stock, a preparation that would suit a wide range of options besides mushrooms and leeks.
The filling can be made up to a couple days in advance so all that’s left to do is fill the dumplings, then pan-fry and steam them. Either gyoza or wonton wrappers will work; go with gyoza for a thinner, more delicate wrapper and wonton for a heartier bite that’s closer to a pierogi. If you have expertise in the dumpling-crimping field, feel free to show off those skills. But as my photo demonstrates, it doesn’t matter if they’re not perfect. As long as they’re sealed tightly, you can play around with any shape or form you like. The dumplings can even be frozen at this stage too, then cooked later straight from the freezer, just like with store-bought versions.
This is the most labor-intensive step of this simple recipe, but it’s easy to flip into a fun activity. There’s something therapeutic about sitting around with friends or family stuffing dumplings. Just don’t be surprised if the crimping turns competitive.
To sip on while you work and to pair with the meal, I’d suggest a white wine that has some body and roundness to it but also a tinge of citrus fruit and enough acidity to stand up to the meaty richness of the filling without outshining the delicate flavor of the leeks. I went with the 2018 vintage of this Happs Sémillon Margaret River 2015 from Australia, which I purchased for $17.
Pan-Fried Leek-and-Mushroom Dumplings
Pair with a textured, fuller-bodied white wine with palpable acidity, such as Happs Sémillon Margaret River 2018.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Approximate food costs: $25
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 to 4 cups chopped leeks, from 1 or 2 leeks
- 1 1/2 cups mixed mushrooms, finely chopped
- Splash of white wine (you can use what you're drinking)
- 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
- Rosemary sprig
- Lemon juice, to taste
- 1/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus more if desired
- Gyoza or wonton wrappers, thawed
- 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and sauté for 5 minutes until they’re softened and some are browned. Add mushrooms and sauté for 3 to 5 more minutes until they’re cooked down and starting to brown.
2. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, then add chicken stock or water and a rosemary sprig and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring every so often, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Discard the rosemary sprig and transfer mixture to a bowl. Let cool slightly for a couple of minutes and then fold in 1/4 cup of cheese. Wipe the skillet clean—you'll use it again soon.
3. To construct the dumplings, set out the dumpling wrappers next to a small bowl of water. For each wrapper, scoop a small spoonful of the leek and mushroom mixture in the center. Use your finger to lightly wet the edges of the dumpling wrapper, then fold one side over the mixture and press to seal, or use your crimping technique of choice.
4. Once all the dumplings are filled and ready to cook, heat 1/2 tablespoon of oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches if necessary, add the dumplings and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until deeply browned. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, depending on how many dumplings you have in the pan, cover and steam for 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and top with more cheese, if desired. Makes about 20 dumplings; serves 3 to 4.