Finding gluten-free pierogi in Poland

This has been an ongoing search for me: gluten-free pierogi in Poland. I love pierogi, but finding proper wheat-free ones has been difficult. So far, I’ve only found two restaurants that have them on their menus, sadly. However, I have found that Polish brand Bez Gluten makes a gluten-free version.

I’ll update this post if I find more places. In the meantime, here are the results of my searching.

Gluten-free pierogies at Pod Baranum.
Gluten-free pierogies at Pod Baranum.

Pod Baranem in Krakow:

A great place for dinner, this is a nice restaurant located near to the main square. They have a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, and also have lovely desserts. If you’re gluten-free, you gotta check this place out. Their pierogi ruskie are amazing and savory.

 

Gluten-free pierogies, courtesy of Bistro Friendly Food.
Gluten-free pierogies, courtesy of Bistro Friendly Food.

Bistro Friendly Food, Poznań

While Pod Baranem has white tablecloths, this is a airy cafe with a changing menu. Fair warning: while I lucked out on my visit, the menu seems to be always changing.

 

Obiadomek, Wroclaw

Full disclosure: while I live in Wroclaw, I haven’t checked this place out yet. However, their website says that if you call ahead, they can make gluten-free pierogi.

Bez gluten pierogi that I cooked at home.
Bez gluten pierogi that I cooked at home.

Self-catering: Bez Gluten

Another way to find gluten-free pierogi is to look for the Bez Gluten brand in health food stores. Organic Farma Zdrawia in the basement of Renoma, for example.

The packaging (so you know what to look for!)
The packaging (so you know what to look for!)

I talk about more gluten-free options in my post on Wroclaw Uncut.

Did I miss your favorite place? I’d love to know about a new place with gluten-free pierogi!

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My top 3 gluten-free Michigan-made goodies

I’m back in Poland after a wonderful, whirlwind trip back in Michigan. Before I dive back into veggie-friendly Polish recipes and traveling tips, I want to take a look back at some of my favorite locally made gluten-free products. Here’s my top three, all made in Michigan:

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#1 are Hot Blondes from Ethel’s Edibles. Normally, blonde brownies give me pause, but these are deliciously sweet and rich. The carmel and chocolate chips will make you forget these are gluten-free. Baked in a gluten-free facility in St. Clair Shores.

 

Mmm pierogi...
Mmm pierogi…

#2 are Old World Gluten-Free Pierogi. These are amazing boiled or fried, and come with several kinds of filling— which are all so savory.

 

Ope's gluten-free veggie burgers.

Ope’s gluten-free veggie burgers.

#3 are Ope’s Veggie Burgers, which are tasty, filling, a good size to toss on a grill in the summer, and unlike a lot of gluten-free veggie patties, these will not go all crumbly on you. Best of all, they’re made in Kalamazoo.

Did I miss your favorite gluten-free product? Let me know in the comments.

Lazy pierogi, vegan & gluten-free (leniwe pierogi)

Lazy pierogi.
Lazy pierogi.

This recipe involved talking a co-worker into helping me buy a meat grinder on Allegro, the Polish version of eBay. But your version doesn’t have to be so involved.

If homemade pierogi sound delicious but too time-consuming, this is the perfect recipe. After several tries, I finally mastered this one, and so happy that I got the hang of it!

The idea is simple. While pierogi are extremely tasty, to make both the dough and filling from scratch, and then to stuff them, it a long, labor-intensive process. Lazy pierogi is a shortcut: basically, you take both the dough and filling, blend them, and savor the result.

Lazy pierogi are one of several little dumplings popular in Poland. There’s also kluski (which are round, with a dimple in the center) and kopytka (which are diamond shaped.) They seem to all be variations of each other— but delicious variations of each other.

To make them gluten-free and vegan, there’s a few things to remember. One, buy good quality potatoes. Go to a farmer’s market if there’s one nearby and get fresh ones. Maybe get the kind you have to scrub the dirt off of. The flavor will be worth it.

Potatoes, fresh from the market.
Potatoes, fresh from the market.

Two, use good quality flavored tofu. I used garlic flavored and was very happy with the resulting flavor. In this recipe, the tofu will be standing in for twaróg, a type of soft, white cow’s cheese. Using plain tofu will result in pierogis that taste too much like soy. If you don’t like using flavored tofu, I suggest marinating the tofu in something tasty first.

Flavored tofu.
Flavored tofu.

The third trick is more complicated. Traditionally, to make pierogi, the stuffing is blended in a meat grinder. (Hence my buying one!) However, if you don’t want to buy one kitchen gizmo for one dish, I recommend using a potato masher on both the tofu and potatoes. Basically, you want the tofu in small enough pieces that it blends easily with the cooked potatoes. (Using your hands to blend everything also helps!)potato3

The original recipe called for tapioca flour, which I couldn’t find in Wroclaw. I recommend avoiding millet flour, as my first batch tasted grainy when I used this one. If you’re curious what the rolling process looks like, I suggest watching this video. (Yes, it’s in Polish, but it’s pretty easy to follow what she’s doing.)

This recipe is adapted from the Polish cookbook Wegańskie wypieki i potrawy bez glutenu by Teresa Reimann. (Which I totally recommend, if only for the mouth-water photographs!)

Ingredients

1 lb potatoes

1 block tofu, drained (250 g)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of:

rice flour (white or brown works)

corn flour

potato flour

1. Scrub and peel the potatoes, and chop into cubes.

2. Add the potatoes to salted, boiling water and boil for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

3. When the potatoes are soft, drain and let cool.

4. While the potatoes are cooling, crumble the drained tofu with your hands and use a potato masher to finish the job.

5. When the potatoes are cool, mash thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.

6. When the potatoes are mashed, add the tofu, stir well, and mash everything again. (Note: steps 5-6 can be omitted if you have a meat grinder.)

7. When the tofu and potatoes are completely blended, add the flour, one spoon at a time, taking care to mix the flour in completely. Also, add salt and pepper at this point.

8. When the flours, potatoes and tofu and blended thoroughly, it’s time to start shaping the pierogi. Roll the dough into several orange-size balls, then roll into oblong tubes. Then, slice the rolls into slices.

dough9. When the pierogi are formed, drop them into boiling water for 1-2 minutes. (If you let them go too long, they fall apart.) Alternately, you can fry them.

10. Serve topped with sautéd onions, green onions, or vegan sour cream.

 

You may need some help with clean up.
You may need some help with clean up.

Lazy pierogi, vegan & gluten-free

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

1 lb potatoes

1 block tofu, drained (250 g)

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons of:

rice flour (white or brown works)

corn flour

potato flour

1. Scrub and peel the potatoes, and chop into cubes.

2. Add the potatoes to salted, boiling water and boil for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

3. When the potatoes are soft, drain and let cool.

4. While the potatoes are cooling, crumble the drained tofu with your hands and use a potato masher to finish the job.

5. When the potatoes are cool, mash thoroughly in a large mixing bowl.

6. When the potatoes are mashed, add the tofu, stir well, and mash everything again. (Note: steps 5-6 can be omitted if you have a meat grinder.)

7. When the tofu and potatoes are completely blended, add the flour, one spoon at a time, taking care to mix the flour in completely. Also, add salt and pepper at this point.

8. When the flours, potatoes and tofu and blended thoroughly, it’s time to start shaping the pierogi. Roll the dough into several orange-size balls, then roll into oblong tubes. Then, slice the rolls into slices.

9. When the pierogi are formed, drop them into boiling water for 1-2 minutes. (If you let them go too long, they fall apart.) Alternately, you can fry them.

10. Serve topped with sauted onions, green onions, or vegan sour cream.

 

A taste of Hamtramck: gluten-free pierogi review

Old World Gluten-Free pierogis.
Old World Gluten-Free pierogis.

Whether from a street vendor during the Tastefest or in Eastern Market,* or a package of homemade ones from the Polish Market, pierogis are both a quintessential comfort food as well as a popular ethnic food in Detroit. Brought by Polish immigrants to Hamtramck, those potato-filled treats evoke so many memories: frying store-bought ones with my friends to hanging out at summer festivals. When I lived in Hamtramck, within easy walking distant of freshly made pierogis, I fell in love more, topping mine with both pico de gallo and homemade sour cream from Honeybee Market.

Sadly, those little bundles of delicious fried comfort fell off the menu when I went gluten-free. And then I discovered how regional they are: while gluten-free ravioli and even gnocchi are easy to find, I had no luck with finding the Polish dumplings. My own pierogi attempt didn’t work out, and I even struck out while I was in Poland.

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Enter: Old World Gluten-Free. Based in St. Clair Shores, I’m delighted that a fellow pierogi lover realized the void that going gluten-free can leave. Their pierogis are brilliant— tasty, filling, and bringing back all the memories and comfort that good pierogi should. Bonus: the main flour used in the dough is garbanzo bean flour.

I tried two kinds, one sweet and one savory. The savory was potato and cheddar cheese— and oh, these are perfect. Savory and simple, you can taste the cheese and rich potato flavor. Even better, the gluten-free dough holds up great when boiled and crisps up beautifully when fried. And the flavor takes me back to dinners in Hamtramck, the flavor of the dough is spot-on. And they’re a good size, too— proper pierogi sized, not smallish, as so many gluten-free products tend to be.

The sweet cheese ones were tasty as well— a soft, gentle, sweet flavor. I fried mine in butter with a touch of sugar— and they’re great with a dusting of cinnamon.

One suggestion: make sure to boil them first, as they can be a bit dry otherwise. (I tried just defrosting and frying some of the sweet cheese ones.)

My only wish? That you could buy them at more places. (Here’s the list of stores they are available at.)

Also, they are on the pricy side— and while the ingredients and quality are worth it, it does make me wish gluten-free foods were more affordable. But the price is worth it to have pierogis on my plate again.

And yes, they do make vegan ones (yay!)bag

*Yup, I know I’m dating myself by mentioning the Tastefest.