Homemade pierogies (or vareniki as our Baba calls them) are really all about the fillings. Unlike frozen, store-bought pierogies, homemade pierogi fillings are deliciously flavourful. They can be savoury or sweet, traditional or unusual. You get to choose!
Traditional pierogi fillings
Here are a few fillings that come straight from Baba’s cookbook. These are the ones that my husband grew up eating and are still his favourite.
- Mashed Potatoes and Cheese: Make 3 cups of mashed potatoes. Add in 1 tsp of minced garlic, 1/4 cup of chopped green onions, 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese and 1 egg.
- Cottage Cheese: Mix 3 cups of dry curd cottage cheese with 2 eggs and 1 tsp salt (unless the cheese is already salted, then skip the salt.)
- Mashed root vegetables: Steam and puree any root vegetables that you have. Add salt and pepper to taste. Anything works with this pioneer recipe: turnip, rutabaga or beets. I recommend sprucing things up by adding a bit of crumbled goat cheese.
A few new favourites
Here are a few pierogi fillings that my husband and I have created over the years, either because we at them ate while traveling in Poland or because they just sounded tasty.
- Mushrooms: Saute 2 cups chopped mushrooms with 1/4 cup of diced onion. When the vegetables are soft, add in 1 tsp dried dill and salt to taste. It can be hard to fill a pierogi with mushrooms, so stir in a 1/2 cup of plain mashed potatoes to thicken the filling.
- Sauerkraut: Drained sauerkraut is a delicious filling. Or mix 1 cup of drained sauerkraut with 1/4 cup of potatoes for a slightly thicker filling.
- Refried beans: Fry 1/4 cup of diced onion and 1 tsp of garlic until soft. Mix with 1 can of refried beans and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Serve with salsa and sour cream.
- Kimchi: Finely dice 1 cup of fresh kimchi and mix it with 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes.
- Fresh fruit: This is another one of Baba’s favourite fillings. Mix 1 cup of thinly sliced fruit or whole berries and mix with 1/4 cup of white sugar.
- Chocolate: Fill each pierogi with 1 square of good-quality dark chocolate, then either add a sprinkling of chopped roasted hazelnuts or 1 tsp of cream cheese.
- Pumpkin Pie: Mix a 14 oz can of pumpkin puree with 1 cup of soft cream cheese. Add in 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/4 tsp ground cloves. Serve with whipping cream.