Buckwheat Ravioli with Cheese-Millet Filling (Ajdovi Krapi)
Ajvar and Greek Yogurt
Parsley Chicken ā la Jacques Pépin
I first discovered buckwheat pockets, or buckwheat ravioli, in the bilingual vegetarian cooking blog of a young Slovenian woman. The ingredients seemed so simple and wholesome: buckwheat flour, farmer cheese, millet.
The Slovenian name she gave for the dish was ajdovi krapi. (I-dough-vee krah-pee). There was nothing like it in my vintage Slovenian American cookbooks. So I figured this must be her original creation. A vegetarian twist that was far removed from traditional, meat-heavy Slovenian cooking.
But I was wrong.
A few months later, I discovered a half dozen references to this wholesome traditional dumpling, sometimes with recipes included. Ajdovi krapi turned up on Slovenian government websites, on blogs, and in an except from a recent book by a Slovenian cooking expert. But that original blog had disappeared.
To figure out a recipe, I had to do my own metric conversions, and sometimes my own translations. As usual, Google Translate was an awkard tool. The low point was one surreal suggestion about how to serve these intriguing dumplings:
". . . top with sour cream and cold sores."
Umm, no thanks! Sour cream and cracklings, the correct translaton, did sound a little more appetizing, but I liked the idea of a meat-free entree. If nothing else, it would be a change of pace.
This project turned out to be more challenging than I expected.
It started with the Russian-style farmer cheese I bought for the filling. When I opened the container, I discovered a strange fuzzy film of mold on top. Luckily, the cheese shop was just around the corner, so I was able to exchange it without too much trouble.
Then, perhaps because of the metric conversions, I ended up pouring too much water into the buckwheat flour. And I forgot that I had never made an all-buckwheat dough before. So I was a little thrown by the sticky mass and had to knead in more more flour.
Ultimately, it all worked out. Read on!
Buckwheat Ravioli/Ajdovi Krapi
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 c. boiling salted water (more if needed)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. millet, cooked in boiling salted water and drained
1 1/2 cups farmer cheese or ricotta
1 egg, beaten
salt to taste
fresh parsley to taste, minced
First, make the filling: Cook millet in boiling salted water for 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Mix in cheese, egg, salt, and parsley. Refrigerate.
Roll out the buckwheat dough on a floured board, thinly, as for noodles.
For shaping the ravioli, there are a few choices. Typically, squares or rounds of dough are folded over a spoonful of filling. But the all-buckwheat dough didn't seem pliable enough for that. So I decided to sandwich together pairs of 3-inch rounds. (See the photo below.) Don't forget to seal the edges with a fork!
Cook the ravioli, a few at a time, in boiling salted water for 20 minutes. Drain.
For serving, there are two traditional accompaniments: Buttered bread crumbs, or sour cream and cracklings :-)
For that first night, I kept it simple and light: Plain boiled ravioli with ajvar and yogurt. My husband decided to contribute one of his favorite quick entrees, from a Jacques Pépin recipe: boneless chicken sauteed with garlic and parsley. (I suspect he had some doubts about how my buckwheat dumplings would turn out!)
The next night, we went completely vegetarian. My husband sauteed the leftover ravioli with mushrooms and red peppers. With a green salad alongside, it was a fine dinner.
The verdict: Delicious and versatile! We kept on eating these wholesome buckwheat dumplings all week long. I froze some for my Slovenian American mom to try. She was the lone dissenting voice. She didn't recall anything like this from her childhood in Cleveland. "Too dry," she thought.
Buckwheat does have a hearty, assertive flavor. For the faint of heart, the dough can be made with a blend of buckwheat and white wheat flour, as I did with my struklji recipe. But we liked it this way!
Here are is how it looked, step-by-step: