Meatless Surprise Wrapped in Mystery

Churchill described Russia’s actions as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”


Almost fifty years before the brilliant British statesman issued his famous phrase, a Russian artist Sergei Malyutin had a similar idea. Tzar Nicholas II, who ascended the Russian throne in 1894, promoted Russian culture, arts, and crafts. Granted, in a way it was an attempt to dissuade public resentment of his German wife. However, the Tzar himself had a hobby to which he would dedicate most of his time and attention – woodcarving. The monarch’s hobby inspired so-called “Russian style” in arts, specifically focused on the old-fashioned village children’s toys.  The royal family sponsored a workshop called “Children’s Nurturing” which created dolls dressed in regional Russian national costumes. It is in this workshop that Malyutin conceived the idea of a nestling doll that took the world by a storm and became a symbol and epitome of Russia.

The first Matryoshka doll was carved by a doll-master Zvyozdochkin following Malyutin’s sketches. It was given a quintessential old Russian name: Matryoshka is a diminutive from Matryona, a revered name stemming from a root mater’ – mother, a healthy, happy, full-figured symbol of motherhood and fertility. Today you can find matryoshka dolls looking like presidents, rock starts, and cartoon characters. Purists claim that those are “not real,” but actually, as long as there are at least three dolls concealed inside each other, you get an authentic expression of the Russian national character: “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

Rtle Rsts 1.jpg

We are starting with a wrapper – Spring Roll Wrappers, to be specific. We are going to create a mystery to surround a riddle. We will boil it, and mix it, and bake it, and serve it as a gift-wrapped bundle, and then…


… let’s see what we find inside! We will need some aquafaba, if we don’t want to use eggs, and a meat substitute of your choice, if you don’t want to use ground turkey or lean ground beef.

Mtls Srpr 1.jpg

First, we need to peel and boil a couple of sweet potatoes. That’ll take about twenty minutes. When they are ready, drain and mash them up. Let them rest for now.

Mtls Srpr 2.jpg

While your potatoes are cooking, you need to soak a couple of slices of bread (I always have leftovers of spelt challah to use for various purposes) in soy or any other non-dairy milk. Mash it up in a separate bowl.

Mtls Srpr 3.jpg

Beef-less Ground is my favorite meat substitute, but feel free to use whatever you prefer, or go all out and use ground turkey or lean beef. Combine it with mashed soaked bread.

Mtls Srpr 4.jpg

Throw in some diced onion and garlic, grated carrots, chopped fresh parsley, whisked aquafaba or eggs, season it with salt and pepper, and mix it all up. Remember, your mashed sweet potatoes are not a part of this mix; they are still resting.

Mtls Srpr 5.jpg

Now, mist your muffin form with oil and arrange those spring roll wrappers there instead of muffins. Fill them with meatless (or ground meat) mix, top with mashed sweet potato, and close the corners. Make sure you seal your bundles well. Mist them with oil and send them to the oven, preheated to 350 F. Meanwhile, watch some live “matryoshkas” dance – the world famous ensemble “Beriozka.”

It seems we have a little problem! The dance is over, but your surprise still needs some more time in the oven, about fifteen minutes. Let’s make a nutritious green treat to compliment it!

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Take a bunch of kale, cut the stems away, and tear it into smaller pieces, about 1 inch squares. Place them into a microwaveable dish.

Mtls Srpr 6

Mix in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle a little salt. I also sprinkle a pinch of sumac, for lemony taste, but mostly for color. Microwave it uncovered for three or four minutes, depending on your microwave, until the chips are thoroughly dry and crisp.

Mtls Srpr 8.jpg

By this time your Meatless Surprises should be ready, and you can serve these precious crispy bundles with juicy filling on a bed of crispy kale chips. A riddle wrapped in a mystery could be both pretty and delicious!


  • 1 large or two medium size sweet potatoes
  • 2 – 3 slices spelt, whole wheat, or multi-grain bread
  • 1/4 cup soy or other non-dairy milk substitute of your choice
  • 1 cup aquafaba (liquid left from cooking chick peas) (alternatively, 1 large egg)
  • 1 lb ground meat substitute (alternatively, 1 lb ground turkey or lean ground beef)
  • 1/2 medium size onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 Spring Roll Wrappers
  • For Kale Chips:
  • 2 cups loosely packed kale, cut from stems, torn into 1 inch (2.5 cm) squares
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • A pinch of salt to taste
  • Optional: a pinch of sumac


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Mist muffin form with oil.
  • Peel and boil sweet potatoes until very soft. Drain and mash them up. Put aside.
  • Tear bread slices into small pieces, soak in soy milk until soft. Mash them up. Add ground neat substitute.
  • Whisk aquafaba to foam, add to meat/bread mixture. Add the rest of ingredients, mix well.
  • Arrange spring roll wrappers in muffin tin, fill with mix, top with mashed sweet potatoes, close corners, and seal firmly, forming a bundle. Mist with oil.
  • Bake for 18 – 20 minutes.
  • Mix kale pieces with oil, salt, and sumac. Microwave for 3 – 4 minutes until dry and crisp.
  • Serve baked Meatless Surprises on bed of kale chips.







41 Comments Add yours

  1. flavours2017 says:

    Lovely share —

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for so much information did not all these things at all. Thanks for the lovely share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment – I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Beriozka is a lovely dance, Dolly. Those dancers in their pretty costumes glide in so gracefully!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, aren’t they amazing? Beriozka is the name of the dance troupe, not the dance itself, though, but the gliding is their hallmark; that’s how they move in all their dances. Thank you for your kind comment – I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah I see. I mistook it for the kind of dance. It is charming 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree, and thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reblogging.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hello, thank you also for this wonderful recipe, and the wonderful presentation. I m waiting on the first cookbook from you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Working on it, dear Michael, first draft ready…


  4. Thank you very much. Your presentations and recipes are always soooooo amazing. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Michael, for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. spearfruit says:

    A wonderful story and wonderful recipe. Thank you Dolly for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment – I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this recipe Dolly, great idea to use wonton wrappers and not only do they look delicious they look adorable too. And the kitten picture is priceless 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Myra!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You find the cutest videos, Dolly! The dancing doll ending with the audience pouring into the lobby was especially clever. And THEN that adorable “surprise” kitten. Even I, highly allergic to cats, could never resist taking that little baby in.

    The “Russian Rockettes” – floating rather than high kicking – was a real treat. Beriozka was a brand new experience for me. I always learn something new when I visit your blog – and that’s not even considering the new taste treats you always share. I am especially eager to try those “kale chips.”

    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


    1. Thank you! Beriozka is famous for that gliding step; it is unique to them. Also, if you notice, the dancers look very much alike and have that frozen doll-like smile on their faces. They are chosen for that look and trained to hold the smile.
      Kale chips have become a staple for us; I make them every day now. Try them – you’ll like them, I am sure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll bet Tink would enjoy those kale chips as well – a nice break from the sweet potato chips I make for him especially (tho’ he’s pretty crazy about those!)

        Over my insistence that I was NOT a trained ballet dancer, I was cast as one of four dancers in “the Bad Bad Man ballet” in a summer theatre Rep production of Annie Get Your Gun.

        By the time the choreographer figured out that I was NOT being modest, it was too late to recast, and he didn’t want to change the dance.

        Solution: floor length dresses – I did the arms, sort of scooted around with my feet as I made sure my upper body was placed like theirs, sold it with my acting, and nobody was the wiser.

        I felt really sorry for the other 3, because they were working A LOT harder than I and nobody could see it under those skirts!!

        lol – funny memory.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, that’s hilarious!


  8. This looks very delicious Dolly and as usual together with an interesting story 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Irene, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Megala says:

    Looks amazing and sounds healthy ! Thanks for the recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Megala, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. [ Smiles ] An interesting recipe. I would keep it 100% meatless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s how I made it, Renard, but I provided carnivore alternatives 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I love your history lessons, along with your recipes!!
    My Mama has some Russian nesting dolls, that she bought while there on a missions trip. PP loves to play with them!
    I published my empty house, where;s my cake??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you see your cake?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not yet, just now able to log on. Coming right over!!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. You know I love my greens! 🙂 This looks like an excellent — and delicious meatless meal….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear Christina, I am so glad you like it!


  13. Joëlle says:

    From the age of 4 till she was 18, my daughter took dance lessons, mainly ballet and jazz. But one year she also took part in a group competition of Russian folklore dancing… and they won first prize! Your video brought this happy memory back to me, thank you!
    And thank you also for sharing a meatless recipe with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a coincidence: my granddaughter attended a ballet school from the age of 3 till 7, when they transferred her to a regular school, and she switched to gymnastics. I am glad you liked the video!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. John Kraft says:

    You are making me hungry and curious about the dolls.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment – I am so glad you like it!


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