Green Springtime Pierogi with Spinach Kasza and Cheese recipe and cookbook review: Polska by Zuza Zak

#ZuzaZak #Polska #Polish #pierogis #QuadrilleBooks #HardieGrant

Polska is a wonderful book filled with gorgeous, inspirational photos, homey, delicious Polish comfort food, and special-occasion dishes. It filled our home with the inviting scent of marjoram and onions. Zuza’s tone is very casual and inviting, and her instructions are clear.

The simple and delicious Turkey Escalope is going to find its way to the table often in this house, but her lovely Green Springtime Pierogi with Spinach Kasza and Cheese were over-the-moon good. A big thanks to Quadrille for letting me share the recipe with you! I’ll tell you all about the other dishes we tried after the recipe.

Recipe excerpted with permission from Polska by Zuza Zak, published by Quadrille September 2016, RRP $35.oo hardcover.

Green Springtime Pierogi with Spinach, Kasza and Cheese

Pierogi are one of Poland’s signature dishes, their frilly crescent moon shape distinguishes them from other dumplings. It takes a certain amount of skill to get them just right, and I remember my grandma Ziuta repeatedly instructing me to press the sides down more firmly when I sealed them. I never seemed to have the confidence to press down hard enough, and she always worked on the pierogi after me, making sure they were firmly sealed. These colourful pierogi are my own invention, if you don’t have a juicer then you can use water to make the dough, and blend the spinach rather than juicing it and add it to the mixture.

{Serves 4}
{Time: 1 hour}

300 g (10 ½ oz/2 ¼ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
200 g (7 oz) spinach, juiced (or 3–4 tablespoons spinach juice)
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
salt, to taste

200g (7 oz) spinach
100 g (3 ½ oz) feta cheese
juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
100 g (3 ½ oz) toasted buckwheat groats, cooked
salt and white pepper, to taste

100g (3 ½ oz) watercress, to serve

To make the dough, combine the flour with the egg yolks, a pinch of salt and some of the spinach juice in a bowl and knead together for about 10 minutes, adding more spinach juice to bring the dough together into a ball that has the consistency of play dough. Add a little oil and butter to make the dough more elastic and continue kneading for another 2 minutes or so. <If you’re doing this in a stand mixer, it’s easier to incorporate if you add the butter with the other dough ingredients. ~Jen> Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for about 20 minutes, if possible.

Meanwhile, chop the spinach for the filling, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for a minute or two and then drain thoroughly in a sieve, pressing down with a fork to make sure all the water has drained away. Return to the bowl, add the feta, lemon juice, nutmeg, buckwheat groats and some white pepper.

Roll out your dough as thinly as possible on a floured surface. Use either pierogi method (see below). <I’m using method two here. ~Jen>

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil and add the rapeseed oil. When it’s bubbling drop a few pierogi in, 5 or 6 at a time. When they float up to the top give them another 3–4 minutes, then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. Cook the remaining pierogi in the same way.

Serve the pierogi with the watercress as a garnish.

Pierogi MethodsDumplings are incredibly simple to make and very much part of our Polish heritage, all you need is a little confidence in the art of folding and preparing the dough, to make these little wonders. Once mastered, dumplings can be made in minimal time and truly are little flavor bombs that you can fill with whatever mixture your heart desires!

Pierogi Method 1
1 Put a teaspoon of the filling onto the dough about a third of the way down (you can make a few pierogi at once this way)
2 Fold the shorter edge of the dough over the filling.
3 Use your cutter or wine glass to cut a half-moon shape out of the dough with the filling in the middle.
4 Pull the dumpling [s] out and use the tip of a fork to press down the edges and create a frilly effect.

Pierogi Method 2
1 Cut circle shapes out of the dough with a cutter. <I used a 3″ cutter. ~Jen>
2 Put a teaspoon of the filling inside each circle.
3 Close each circle to create a half-moon shape.
4 Press the edges down with your fingertips to seal the pierogi and create a frilly edge.

Back to that book…

AUTHOR: Zuza Zak
BOOK: Polska
PUBLISHER: Quadrille (ISBN 9781849497268)
ON-SALE DATE: September 6, 2016
RRP: $35.00 hardcover
Photograph credit: Laura Edwards

My thoughts and pics of the dishes we tried:
1) Rich Ukrainian Borscht with Beef and Butter Beans – p 71. This is a fantastic and easy borsch! It’s mostly vegetables and beans with just a little beef that plays so well with the beets.

2) Poached Halibut in Buttery Dill Sauce – p 111. Very simple and flavorful. The halibut is poached in prosecco, lemon zest, and spices, then dressed in a buttery lemon and dill sauce. The poaching liquid was delicious, so I strained it to use in a soup.

3) Crispy Duck with Apple and Walnut Sauce – p 86 with Beetroot Puree – p 142. Terrific! The crispy skinned duck, with apples, shallots, and walnuts sautéed in its fat, are incredibly rich cold weather fare. I’m glad she brought up the beet pairing. The earthiness of the beets balance the richness of the duck so nicely. Very special dinner.

4) Mamas Peas and Carrot Cubes – p 127. These are fabulous and effort free. Peas and carrots with a lovely béchamel. They’re wonderfully sweet and creamy prepared this way.

5) Melt in Your Mouth Mazurian Potato Marjoram Pie – p 124. Delicious! Potato, bacon, onion, garlic, and marjoram. Mine’s a little darker than the author’s. I suspect it’s because I didn’t peel the potatoes. The recipe didn’t explicitly say to peel or not to peel, so I left them on since they’re good for you. I used about a tablespoon of salt and teaspoon of pepper since it was 3 full pounds of potatoes.

6-10) Green Springtime Pierogi with Spinach Kasza and Cheese – p 154. She has so many different pierogi in this book, and I can’t wait to try them all, but wanted to start with this one. The dough is green from juicing spinach, then it’s filled with more spinach, feta, and buckwheat groats. It’s a really lemony, fresh springtime taste. With a 3” cutter, I got 29 pierogi out of the dough, and it was just the right amount of filling.

11) Breaded Turkey Escalope with Cucumber and Dill Salad – p 96. We loved this. Wonderfully simple. The turkey breasts are massaged with a garlic, salt, and pepper paste, then breaded and fried. I want to give all my schnitzel the garlic rub down now!

12) Young Spring Cabbage with Dill and Bacon – p 136. Wonderfully savory, with the onion, garlic, and cabbage cooked right in the bacon fat. The tomato paste and bright acidity from the lemon balance the flavor so nicely. Dill is more of an ingredient and strong player in the dish than it is a garnish.

13) Pierogi Ruskie – p 171. These are filled with onions fried in butter, potato, and fresh cheese. I substituted Farmer’s cheese as the closest match. These are wonderfully aromatic comfort food.

14-18) Crispy Baked Pierogi Stuffed with Pork and Pine Nuts – p 167. We adored these. The crust is the buttery, flaky sort. They’re fabulously rich. So I cheated here and bought a 3 pack of dumpling molds. I’ll tell you about those at the end if you embrace a little laziness. ;D

19) Pink Summertime Pierogi with Strawberry Filling and Vanilla Cream – p 156. Yum! These are glorious dessert pierogis. Hers are magenta. I used bottled beet juice in the dough, and that left them with just the slightest pink blush. Next time, I’m going to juice the beets by hand and see if I get that gorgeous color like she did.

I’ll update this as I play in the book more!

Some others I have flagged to try: Caramelized Onion Scrambled Eggs – p 33 * Cool Lithuanian Choknik for Hot Days – p 64 * Venison Steak with Prune Sauce – p 88 * Beef and Gherkin Old Country Zrazy – p 101 * Gingerbread Salmon Salad – p 112 * Gypsy-Style Mixed Greens – p 128 * Creamy Spinach Puree with Fried Egg – p 140 * ‘Little Hooves’ with Crispy Onion and Bacon Bits – p 159 * ‘Lazy’ Dumplings with Sugary Brown Butter – p 161 * Autumnal Potato Knedle with Juicy Plum Filling – p 164 * Uszka-Wild Mushroom and Sauerkraut ‘Little Ears’ – p 169 * Cumin Babkas on a Sea of Marinated Red Peppers – p 180 * Potato Placki with Creamy Chanterelles – p 182 * Nettle Leaves in Beer Batter with Honey Mustard Dip – p 186 * Buckwheat Blinis with Aubergine Caviar – p 190 * Pork Klopsini on Courgette Islands – p 195 * Poppyseed and Almond Makowiec – p 208 * Juicy Apple and Cinnamon Szarlotka with a Meringue Topping – p 213 * Cardamom and Vanilla Karpatka Cream Cake – p 214 * Salted Caramel Mazurek with Pecans – p 218 * Aromatic Doughnuts with an Old-Style Rose Filling – p 220 * Boozy Chocolate and Walnut Torte – p 223 * Jewish-Style Pascha Dessert – p 223 * Whimsical, Fruity Kisiel with Meringue Clouds – p 231

*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.

Need that book or pierogi mold? I’m an Amazon affiliate. Any time you use one of my links to make a purchase, Amazon gives me a tiny percentage. Thank you!


These molds work beautifully. I gave them a quick mist of cooking spray, rolled out one layer of dough and laid it on the mold, added a little filling in each cavity, rolled out another layer of dough and laid it on top, gave a nice strong roll with the rolling pin, and flipped it over to release them. So easy! AND, there’s no wasted dough in between. All of the pierogis are touching.

Russian Pelmeni Ravioli + Vareniki + Chebureki Maker

36 thoughts on “Green Springtime Pierogi with Spinach Kasza and Cheese recipe and cookbook review: Polska by Zuza Zak

  1. Oh wow those look so delicious! I’ve always wanted to give pierogies a try and you make it look so very simple. I’m definitely inspired to give this a whirl using your spinach method. In the New Mexico Latino culture, we have something called empanadas, which are very similar. It’s my belief that every culture has its own version of meats or filling in a pocket of bread of some sort. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks FoodInBooks! Too true! Potstickers, ravioli, empanadas, potstickers, pelmenis…. I love them all! Most of the pierogis in the book have a normal pierogi dough. The pork and pine nut is heavier on the butter, and baked (but you could totally fry it), and they read much closer to an empanada. New Mexico – now you’ve got me thinking about bats & caves, fry bread tacos, and Georgia O’ Keeffe. I need a trip back to Taos – lol! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The green springtime pierogies are just glorious! (All of the food you made looks great, by the way–wow!) I definitely have to try them–and I think I probably need to serve them on St. Patrick’s day as well. (Not an Irish food, but green is good:)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s true. The second I have the real method down, I’m looking for speedy cheat methods. What’s weird is that I teach the kids the cheat methods. They can opt to learn the more time-consuming ways later if they want.


      1. I think that’s the way to go, just because the tendency to think of cooking as something onerous. Do it the easy way first and then if you need a different outcome or develop a love for the thing, learn the hard way later. I know *how* to make a cake from scratch but in nine out of ten situations when I need a cake, a pepped up box cake will serve my purpose.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh! I am a polish girl at heart! Grew up with a Polish grandmother and all of her foods have a special place in my heart. This cookbook looks so delish and thank you so much for for doing such amazing and thorough review! Dying to try the sweet pierogi at the end, that was one type of pierogi I’ve never tried!

    Liked by 3 people

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