I am just about as Polish as they come. People constantly point out my “round polish face,” I’ve been raised on real, homemade potato pancakes, and I have a small tattoo written in Polish. When I was younger, I used to think being Polish was boring. I had friends who were Irish, Scottish, Italian, and even Native American. I felt like Polish was equivalent to a boring white crayon in a box of colorful cultural crayons.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized how important is it to embrace who you are. Plus, I learned how awesome it is to be Polish; I mean can you really argue with a culture that’s known for its pierogies? There have been a few times in my life when I was lucky enough to enjoy fresh pierogies, handmade from scratch. It’s not an everyday affair because the pierogi-making process takes quite a bit of time and effort. Unfortunately, the only person willing to do so is my grandmother. God bless her. When you taste one of her tender homemade pierogis fresh from the frying pan, you wonder how you ever went on for so long eating the pasta imposters from the freezer section of the grocery store.
Now, I’m a college student, so the chances of me churning out homemade pierogi any time before summer break are slim to none. So what am I to do when my Polish roots start craving some pierogi? The answer is simple: make Pierogi Casserole.
This dish is a blessing. It lets me have all the goodness of a pierogi in casserole-form. It’s essentially a pierogi that’s been deconstructed, stripped down to its individual elements and put back together to resemble some sort of lasagna. Only this is much better than lasagna. We’re talking a rich, mashed potato filling that’s stuffed with melted cheese, fried onions, and butter then layered with lasagna noodles. So, you’ve got that classic pierogi filling and the pasta shell that cradles it, broken down to exist as a layered casserole. It’s a pan-full of heaven: mounds of cheesy, starchy, buttery goodness. Is it indulgent? Yes. Is it good for you? That’s debatable. No, it’s not great for you physical health, but comfort foods such as this do wonders for the mind.
Grab a plateful of this Polish pierogi dream and treat yourself. The best dishes are worth a bit of over-induglence.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- Serve with some veggies to balance out the meal.
- This recipe is easily doubled to serve a crowd.
- Make-ahead dish alert: assemble the casserole earlier in the day, then bake when you’re ready to eat.
- You can use a different kind of potato if that’s all you have, but the Yukon Golds are highly recommended. They’re so buttery, tender, and delicious, perfect for this casserole.
- Note: You can easily cut down the butter in the mashed potato mixture to 1/2 or 3/4 of a stick.
- Check out my video to watch Reese and I whip up this delicious casserole!
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is
- 8 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into fours
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 oz. velveeta cheese, cubed
- 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
- 1 1/2 sticks of butter (note: you can cut down the butter used in the mashed potato mixture to 1/2 or 3/4 of a stick if you like)
- 1/4 cup milk or cream
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Peel potatoes and chop into quarters. Set them in a large pot and cover with water, allowing it to come to a boil. Boil potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. While potatoes are boiling, cook pasta according to directions, and once drained mix with two tablespoons of butter. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt two tablespoons of butter and saute chopped onion until soft and lightly golden.
- Drain potatoes and mash with one stick of butter, garlic, and cheese. Make sure no lumps remain. Add milk to loosen, if desired. Fold in onions.
- Spread out 1/2 the pasta in a large baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, cutting down noodles as necessary. Spread 1/2 the mashed potato mixture over top. Top with the remaining noodles and another layer of mashed potatoes. If desired, top with more cheese and onions. Cover and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes. For the last ten minutes of cooking, remove the cover. This is best when served immediately, but still tastes good after being in the fridge for a day or two.