You may think of blintzes as always filled with a sweet cheese filling and topped with preserved fruit, but in Russia and the former Soviet Union, blintzes are made savory just as often as they are made sweet. My Ukrainian grandmother loved to make blintzes with a variety of fillings: from farmers’ cheese and cherries to ones stuffed with mushrooms and ground meat. She called her sweet blintzes ‘blinchiki,’ and her savory blintzes ‘nalesniki.’ Some even call savory blintzes ‘blini.’ While the names may vary depending on the cook or region, they are always delicious.
These savory blintzes are filled with mushrooms and leek, and are so light and flavorful. They are vegetarian and can be made dairy-free by using non-dairy butter and milk. The mushroom filling can be made with just crimini or button mushrooms, but I love to add shiitake, oyster or chanterelle mushrooms to the mix for a richer mushroom flavor. Breadcrumbs help bind the filling, although my grandmother would have likely used her beloved matzah meal instead.
While these blintzes require a few steps to prepare and assemble, each element can be prepared in advance. Both the crepes and filling can be prepared and refrigerated 1-2 days ahead of serving. You can also pre-assemble the blintzes and brown them just before serving, which makes them a great dish for hosting. I particularly love to serve these for a lunch or brunch, topped with freshly chopped parsley or dill, and a generous dollop of sour cream.
For the crepes:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup milk (can substitute with unsweetened non-dairy milk)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter or oil, plus more as needed
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
For the mushroom filling:
- 1 lb (450 g) crimini or button mushrooms
- ½ lb (225 g) shiitake, oyster, or chanterelles, mushrooms (or substitute with more crimini)
- 1 large leek
- 2 Tbsp oil, plus more as needed
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs, or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
- ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Sour cream
- Chopped parsley or dill
- To make the crepes: Using a blender, immersion blender, or whisk, blend the eggs, milk, flour, 2 Tablespoons melted butter, sugar, and salt together until smooth. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
- Using a non-stick spray, or using a brush with oil or melted butter, lightly grease an 8-9” non-stick skillet over medium heat.
- Add ¼ cup of batter to the pan, and swirl the batter so that it forms an even layer in the pan. Cook the crepe for 1-2 minutes, then flip it and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side, or until the crepe is golden. Transfer to a plate.
- Repeat the process by spraying or brushing the pan with oil between each crepe. Stack finished crepes on top of each other. Crepes can be made 1-2 days in advance and refrigerated until ready to assemble.
- To make the filling: Trim the woody stems of the mushrooms, then dice them very fine. (To save time, you can finely dice the mushrooms in a food processor by pulsing them several times; be careful not to over-process the mushrooms into a paste.)
- Trim the darker, green ends of the leek. Slice the leek lengthwise, and wash it of any remaining grit. Finely dice the leek. Over medium-high heat, add a few tablespoons of oil to a large castiron or non-skillet skillet. Add the mushrooms and leeks to the pan and sauté until the mushrooms have started to brown, and have released most of their liquid, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the breadcrumbs to the pan, and add another drizzle of oil if needed. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are starting to stick to the mushrooms. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir. Taste and adjust the salt or pepper as needed. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove the filling from the heat. The filling can be used immediately or can be made a day ahead of assembling.
- To assemble and cook the blintzes: Add 2 heaping tablespoons of the mushroom filling to the center of each crepe. Fold over each side towards the center of the crepe, then fold the top over the two sides and roll the crepe up, like you would a burrito or eggroll.
- Continue assembling the blintzes, and place them seam-side down until ready to cook.