Everyone loves dumplings. Every culture seems to have a dumpling-like staple and they are usually delicious if made well. Unfortunately, dealing with dough, filling, and making the dumplings can be burdensome enough to scare off all but the most diligent of cooks. I have a simple vegetarian dumpling that is perfectly delicious and much easier than any dumpling, pierogi, shumai or kreplach you've ever attempted.

The key? My old stand-by – store-bought wonton wrappers. They are premade, precut, perfect, little parcels for whatever filling you have in mind.

Personally, I like buying a package of vegetarian soy crumble – it tastes like meat and is perfect for a dumpling filling. Plus Julia likes it. You could substitute ground beef, pork or chicken though. I brown the crumble for a few minutes in the pan to warm it up and add a little flavor. A little canola oil and low sodium soy sauce for a little moisture and taste. I remove the “meat” and place it in a bowl once it is heated.

Then I heat some wild mushrooms that I've diced very small. These add some more texture and nutty flavor to the dish. For an eight-ounce portion of “meat,” maybe four ounces of mushrooms. I heat these in the same pan, but being so finely diced, they cook very quickly. I add these to the bowl.

Lastly I dice up several scallions very small for some onion flavor and more texture. I add these raw to the bowl. I add a little more seasoning at this time, a little more salt or soy sauce, and mix it up. I want it to be savory and tasty but not overpowering. Dumplings are a comfort food, and the flavors should not be too overbearing.

My filling is done in less than ten minutes and then I can fill as many or as few dumplings as I want. Simple process: wonton on the board, brush with a little water or egg wash, add a small spoonful of filling and pinch shut. The shape doesn't matter – these are best when rustic – I just go for something consistent. And I don't overfill – it's much harder to cook a dumpling that is falling apart.

Remember: fill as many as you want, as you can freeze the filled dumplings and cook them off later, or refrigerate extra filling and wontons for another time.

Back to me: I get a nice big pan and get it up to medium heat and add cooking spray. Yes, cooking spray – the best way to get crispy, pan-fried dumplings without adding fat. I cook the dumplings in a single layer (as little touching as possible) for a couple minutes on each side tops. I don't move them around too much, but I flip them when a little peek at the bottom shows a nice light, golden brown. They'll usually brown faster on the other side, so I don't go anywhere once I've flipped them. They're perfect when golden on each side. All it takes to do another batch is a little more spray and another layer.

I serve them with a little ginger dressing, usually thinned with a some water, soy sauce, orange juice and Tabasco sauce. And they’re done and being munched up by Julia and me. Believe me – they're tasty, comforting and just what you expect a dumpling to be like. I can make a great dumpling with homemade dough – they take three times as long to make though. So appreciate how good these are for taking under 45 minutes. Wonton wrappers are life savers and can do anything. Or at least close to everything.

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