Healthy Eating: An easy pot sticker with a sweeter side
I have always been a huge fan of the Chinese dumplings known as pot stickers. They're wonton wrappers filled with pork or shrimp, crisped in a pan, steamed, re-crisped, then served with a dipping sauce. Yum!
Thinking about pot stickers recently, it occurred to me that if you swapped out the savory for something sweet, you'd have a dandy little dessert on your hands. And this time of year, when I think sweet, I think blueberries. They're still thick on the bushes at summer's end when we take our annual vacation at my parents' farm. I had a feeling that blueberries would show up very well in a dessert pot sticker.
Their deliciousness aside, blueberries are a wonderfully healthy fruit — high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants — and this is their season, whether you buy them cultivated or wild. Even frozen berries would work well here. Just defrost them in a colander — taking care to capture the juice that leaks out of them as they come to room temp (you'll add the juice to the sauce) — then pat the berries dry before you encase them in the wrappers.
Given how wildly blueberries can vary in their acidity and sweetness, be sure to taste a berry or two before you make this recipe. You'll want to increase the lemon juice if the berry is relatively flat, and increase the sugar if the berry is exceptionally tart. And, by the way, even though I'm partial to blueberries, this recipe would work with almost any fruit.
Wonton wrappers are one of my favorite cheating ingredients. They are made out of the same ingredients as Italian pasta and are available in the dairy, Asian or frozen food sections of many supermarkets. I even use them to make giant ravioli or individual lasagna stacks. They must be wrapped tightly, however, and not left out uncovered for very long when you're working with them. Otherwise, they'll dry out. They happen to freeze very well, wrapped in plastic, then foil. I try to keep a supply in the freezer at all times.
It's very easy to make this recipe. But you have to cook the pot stickers soon after you make them, and then eat them right away. If you prepare them too far ahead, the bottoms of the wrappers get soggy. Ideally, you should prep the pot stickers just before dinner, then park them on a sheet pan sprinkled with light dusting of cornstarch until you've finished the main course. This keeps them from sticking to the pan.
When you're ready for them, they cook in 5 to 8 minutes. And if it turns out that you don't eat every last one at a single sitting, just put the leftovers in the fridge. My daughter Ruthie swears they're delicious cold the next day. I find them fairly addictive at any temperature.
Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.
Blueberry Pot Stickers
Start to finish: 35 minutes
3 cups blueberries, divided
1⁄4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
16 square wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt
Confectioner's sugar and mint sprigs, to garnish
In a blender, combine 1 cup of the blueberries, the yogurt, the orange liqueur (if using), 1 tablespoon of the sugar and 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice. Puree until very smooth, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, toss a heaping cup of the remaining blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Spread out 4 of the wonton wrappers on a work surface, keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap. Place a small mound of sugared blueberries in the center of each.
To form the dumplings, brush the edges of the wrappers with water. You can use a pastry brush, but it's also easy to just dunk your finger in a glass of water and rub it along the edges of the wrappers.
Lift 2 opposite sides of each wrapper up and press together above the center of the blueberry mound. Bring the other two opposite sides up and press them together. This should form a little box with the blueberries inside. Pinch the wrapper together very tightly at the seams to make sure they are well sealed. Repeat with the remaining blueberries and wrappers.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium, heat the oil until hot. Arrange the wonton packages, seam sides up, in the skillet. Cook until the bottoms are golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1⁄2 cup water, reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and cook for 5 minutes. At this point, the wonton wrappers should look somewhat translucent and cooked. If they don't, add a little more water and steam for another 2 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue to cook until the water has completely evaporated and the bottoms of the pot stickers are crisp and golden. Gently loosen the pot stickers and divide among 4 dessert plates. Sprinkle lightly with confectioner's sugar and top each plate with a small scoop of frozen yogurt. Garnish with the remaining blueberries and mint and serve with the blueberry sauce on the side.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 330 calories (60 calories from fat), 6 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 35 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams protein, 60 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams dietary fiber, 210 milligrams sodium