Basically the Eastern European version of ravioli, these wheat free pierogies are filled with a cheesy potato mixture and fried to perfection. A perfect Christmas Eve meal, or great for any time!
My mom’s side of the family is Slovak, and this recipe comes from her mom. I never met my nanna, but since she taught my mom to cook and my mom taught me, I feel like I know her. Plus, there are many stories of how she would manage to cover the entire kitchen with flour when she cooked, so obviously I inherited some of her talent too!
Supposedly my nanna would whip these up as a lunch during Lent (no meat), which I guess led my mom to assume that they were a quick and easy lunch thing to make. Which they might be, if you’ve made them a thousand times. But the first time my mom made these on her own was to impress my dad’s family while they were dating! Obviously it still worked out for her (the impressing the family bit, that is), but they ended up eating the pierogies as a very late dinner.
Since then, pierogies have become a once-a-year thing: our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We start with oplatki Christmas wafers and drizzle them with honey (golden syrup, in my case). Then we feast on pierogi and soup!
My childhood Christmases were spent with my dad’s giant family: 8 siblings and all their kids, including my uncle Joe, who ate as many pierogi as everyone else combined! (He’s a really skinny guy. Seriously.) With all those pierogies to be made, my parents learned to do it assembly line style: one person rolls and cuts the dough, the other person stuffs and boils then. And if you’re lucky, a third person fries them. I grew up watching — and later helping — them, so I became a pierogi master early in life. I still don’t think I could make them in time for lunch, though!
Obviously I had to alter the recipe to be FODMAP friendly, so these are more inspired by my nanna’s original “recipe.” Recipe in quotes because she was also notorious for never following a recipe (another thing I inherited, ha). The original guys are filled with a very onion-y potato mixture, and also fried in onions. Marc’s body has an aversion to potatoes, so we mash parsnips, but feel free to use potatoes instead. (Although parsnips are quite delicious!) Obviously, onions have been omitted, and I fry them instead in an onion or garlic infused butter / olive oil mixture. The dough was the biggest challenge. Traditional pierogi aren’t made with yeast, but (nerd alert!) we use the rising time to develop the gluten, so the dough will hold through the stuffing, boiling, and frying process. We’ve tried them without yeast (a sticky, falling apart mess), and with eggs instead (tough and dense), so I really do recommend letting the dough rise.
The recipe is time consuming, yes, but not hard. For me that’s part of the beauty of the tradition – spending time in the kitchen with family. The recipe is different, there are no multitudes of cousins, and Marc and I have combined our families, but the traditions are still here, and the pierogies are still warm and delicious. I think nanna would approve.
- 3-4 medium parsnips or medium potatoes or 2 of each
- Lactose-free milk
- Garlic infused olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- A few handfuls grated cheddar cheese
- ½ cup quinoa flour
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons millet flour
- 2 tablespoons oat flour
- ¼ cup sticky rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca starch
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons water
- ¾ teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour mix see above
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ¼ teaspoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of garlic & 1 small onion optional
- Sour cream optional, lactose-free if needed
Make the filling: Peel and cube parsnips or potatoes. Boil in salted water 10-15 minutes until very tender (parsnips will take less time than potatoes). Drain and mash until smooth. Add olive oil and milk until parsnips reach a creamy consistency. Add cheese and stir until melted & incorporated. Season with salt & pepper; set aside. (Filling can be made a day or two in advance. Reheat before filling pierogies.)
For the dough: Heat water to about 110F in a cup or bowl (microwave ~15 sec). Add sugar and yeast and mix. Set aside to activate.
Whisk flour ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Mix 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of flour mixture in a large bowl with the salt & sugar. When the yeast mixture has activated, add in oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry.
Combine dough with a spoon until it begins to form a ball. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 6–8 minutes, until dough is soft and gluten has developed (doesn’t break apart or look biscuit-y)
Grease a bowl lightly with olive oil and place the dough in, turning to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in an oven that is ~100F. (Turn oven on warm periodically throughout the rising time to ensure it stays at 100.) Let rise for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Dough is done rising when you poke it lightly and it does not spring back.
Make the pierogies: When dough is done rising, punch down and turn out onto floured surface. Roll until very thin, 1/8” or less. Cut out using a 3” glass or bowl (somewhere in the 3-4” range is fine). Place cut dough on a floured surface so it doesn’t stick to the counter, and cover with a towel so it doesn’t dry out. (It’s easiest if one person rolls & cuts the dough and another person fills & boils them.)
Fill dough with tablespoon-ish size scoops of the parsnip mixture. Pinch dough along edges to seal (or use a pierogi press — we have these and they’re the best!). If dough has trouble sticking together, wet edges lightly with water to help. Place pierogies on a floured surface under a towel.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut a piece of parchment or wax paper big enough to hold all the pierogies. When water has started to boil, reduce to a gentle roll, about medium heat. Gently add pierogies and cook until they float to the top; remove with a slotted spoon to the wax paper. (At this point, you can wrap the pierogies in wax, making sure they aren’t touching, and freeze in ziplock bags.)
Heat oil or butter (I like a mixture of both) in a pan over medium-high heat. Smash a garlic clove and cut an onion into large pieces; add to pan and sauté until translucent. Remove from pan (the FODMAPs in onion & garlic are not oil soluble.) Add pierogies to pan in batches and cook until browned on each side.
Serve warm and top with salt. Some non-Slovaks (my dad) eat them with sour cream. If you do, I won’t tell my nanna. Enjoy! Pierogies keep for several days in the refrigerator.
If this is your first time making pierogies, read through the instructions first! They aren't hard but there are lots of steps.
Traditional pierogies aren't yeasted, but the rising time helps the gluten develop in this recipe.
You can use either parsnips or potatoes, or half of each.
Cheese is necessary. Cheddar is best.
I like to use garlic-infused olive oil for these: smash a large clove of garlic (remove the husk), and let sit in ¼ – ½ cup of olive oil.
These are best done as a team effort. One person rolls and cuts the dough, and another fills and boils the pierogies.
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