In the three quick weeks since my last post, I went to Poland, came down with a cold, came back from Poland, sent the S.O. off for a week of comedy festivals in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, got over my cold, hosted my parents for a weekend, and finally got the S.O. back. This weekend, I host a colleague (and very good friend). So those are my excuses for neglecting my kitchen.
But I was inspired — a lot — in Poland. On my last night in Warsaw, I finally felt well enough to venture beyond my hotel lobby for a bite to eat. Having not had a proper meal in about a day and a half, I wanted nothing more than to stuff my face with kielbasa and pierogi, preferably cooked in lots of butter. But I knew my immune system would mutiny if I fed it that crap. So I passed up several Polish restaurants before finding an adorable Georgian restaurant — highly recommended to anyone heading to Warsaw — and it turned out to be the best thing for my cold.
I fell in love with phkali, vegan spinach-walnut dumplings. Now, I’m an unapologetic carnivore. I also think food ought to be piping hot and contain cheese in order to be considered “comfort food”. But these little dumplings, served cold, were surprisingly comforting and felt like a bear hug to my tummy. I couldn’t wait to come home to replicate them. Adapting a few recipes I found, I made this lovely version in which the walnuts and fenugreek really punch through, and the spinach keeps the recipe bright and clean. I serve phkali on butter lettuce leaves, to be eaten like a taco, but leftover phkali also makes a wonderful dip for carrot sticks or crackers.