There’s something truly special about food that ties us to our roots. I love that this was honored this year in the theme for National Nutrition Month: Celebrate a World of Flavors. In my family, one of those traditional foods, which came from my Ukrainian grandmother, is cottage cheese pierogies. Growing up, my dad remembers coming home to the kitchen table full of “pinched” pierogies about 2-3 times a year. You can imagine that with seven children in the family to feed, pinching enough pierogies was no easy task.
Like many family recipes, my grandmother’s pierogies have evolved as my dad has now taken on the tradition along with myself. Whereas my grandmother cooked them by boiling alone, we now pan-fry them too to achieve a crispy bite. I can’t find dry curd cottage cheese anymore, so I make my own with the help of cheesecloth. The dough recipe was lost, so we now use a variation from a newspaper clipping my dad found in The Plain Dealer in 2002. And my favorite evolution is the topping swap—instead of the sour cream we used growing up, I now prefer non-fat plain Greek yogurt. Along with the addition of sauteed peppers, this swap helps bring more balance to the meal.
Cottage Cheese Pierogies
3 lbs dry curd cottage cheese
1 lb cottage cheese
1 bunch green onions
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp black pepper, ground
5 cups of flour
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ tsp salt
Approximately 1 ½ cup warm water
- Mix dry cottage cheese with wet cottage cheese.
- Thinly slice green onions and sauté in butter.
- Combine onions, black pepper, and cottage cheese. Refrigerate for one hour.
- Mix flour, eggs, oil, and salt. Add warm water, mix with a wooden spoon or hands.
- Knead on well-floured surface until smooth and elastic (3-5 minutes). Cover and let sit at least 15 minutes.
- Separate into balls. Keep dough covered at all times.
- Roll out dough ball about 1/4 inch thick and cut round discs about 3 inches wide using cookie cutter or drinking glass.
- Fill disc with about 2 tbsp of filling.
- Fold over disc and crimp with fingers to seal shut. Pinch down with fork on edge to complete closure.
- Cook immediately or freeze.
- Boil water. Once boiling, add pierogis to water. Cook for about 7 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.
- Pan-fry until both sides are golden brown. Serve warm with a generous portion of sauteed vegetables and non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
This National Nutrition Month, celebrate the flavors that tie you to your roots. A registered dietitian can help teach you how to incorporate nutrient-rich foods without missing out on the flavors you love. Visit eatright.org for more information on how to connect with a dietitian.