“Tis the season for potlucks and picnics. Me being the “Coal Cracker” that I am, pierogi are always at the top of my list of anticipated joys to indulge in.
Some of my fondest memories revolve around pierogi and their appearance at local church events, fire company block parties, and on holiday tables.
my Mom did not make pierogi, we had enough sources from which to obtain those tender little filled dumplings. However, she absolutely loved the flavor of potato/cheese pierogi.
One day during a gathering at a friend’s house about 30 years ago, my friend brought a 13 x 9 casserole carriere out, unzipped it, and proceeded to knock all our socks off with wqhat had the aroma of pierogi but certainbly not the traditional look.
I truly did not believe I would find this concoction a suitable substitute for the labor-intensive pillows of goodness that were the pierogi of my dreams, but I will be honest and admit to you all — I was wrong!
Yes, I love “tradition”, but sometimes life calls on us to create new traditions. Such is it for me and handmade pierogi at this point in my life. Traditional homemade pierogi are too much physical work for me lately. Mixing, mashing, rolling, pinching, and cooking are almost impossible due to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis in my hands.
I often opt for this easy casserole version with the familiar flavors of potato and cheese pierogi without the labor-intensive and time-consuming work.
I am the first to admit that I sort of “wing it” when making this casserole. To cut down on time, I sometimes use left-over mashed potatoes or even a tub of purchased mashed from the supermarket in this recipe. I am known to clean out the deli drawer of our refrigerator of its left-over bits and pieces of cheeses, resulting in a mish-mash going into the filling mixture.
And I am generous with the sauteed onions in this dish often using more than called for in the original recipe if I do not have really large Vidalia or sweet onions. I have been known to sprinkle the top of the casserole before baking with some good quality cooked and crumbled bacon or even chop up some kielbasa and brown it off in a skillet, then sprinkle it on top.
Instead of layering slices of cheese as called for, you can do as I often do and mix it in with the mashed potatoes: Farmer’s cheese, pot cheese, shredded cheddar, or even sour cream and chives work well — add them to your taste. This is a very versatile recipe.
Super-easy, fast to assemble, and only a handful of ingredients!
Easy Pierogi CasseroleCourse: EntreesCuisine: Eastern European, Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
The flavors of traditional potato and cheese pierogi in an easy-to-make layered casserole that starts with lasagna noodles and mashed potatoes.
16 ounces lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained and laid out on towels to dry
6 cups seasoned mashed potatoes
18 slices processed American cheese or 2 cups shredded cheeses of your choice
1/2 cup (1/4 pound) butter sliced in 15 thin slices
2 large sweet onions, finely chopped (may skip the fresh onions and use 3 Tablespoons onion flakes if you prefer – sprinkle the flakes as directed for the sauteed onions in the directions)
2 to 3 Tablespoons additional butter to saute onion
Salt and pepper to taste
- Saute the chopped onions in the 2 or 3 Tablespoons of butter until soft and lightly golden brown (do not burn). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Lay 3 to 4 cooked lasagna noodles in one layer, overlapping slightly as needed, in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Spread 2 cups of mashed potatoes evenly over the noodles. (Potatoes spread easier if warm.)
- Sprinkle 1/3 of the cooked onions evenly over the potatoes (or the onion flakes if using)
- Place 6 slices of American cheese (or 1/3 of the shredded cheeses) and 5 thin slices of butter on onion l ayer.Repeat these layers twice more, for a total of three layers.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and casserole is heated through.
- Instead of layering slices or cheese, you can mix some in with the mashed potatoes: shredded cheddar, or use sour creanand chives — add to your taste. This is a versatile recipe.
- Keep foil from sticking to the cheese in the casserole by spraying lightly with cooking spray.