I had potato and dill pierogi for the first time 4 years ago when my dear friend Bea Lubas made them for me after we’d finished hosting a photography workshop together. We were all exhausted after 4+ days of talking + teaching non-stop, but she had gotten it into her head to make pierogis for me, our friends + caterers Mona + Jaret, and our other friend Danielle who’d assisted us at the workshop. Bea had come across some sheep’s cheese at the farmer’s market that was very reminiscent of the kind used in Poland for pierogi filling.
Bea is originally from Poland, and while she now calls England her home, her Polish cooking skills are absolutely phenomenal, and the pierogi she made were one of the best meals I’ve ever had. She had adapted her potato and dill pierogi recipe from her mother-in-law, whose pierogis were renowned in the Lubas household, and now I am sharing this recipe with you that I adapted from Bea’s recipe. So, what makes this nettle potato and dill pierogi so special? Well, for me its the punchy herbaceousness of the large quantity of dill, paired with the slightly tangy creamy cheese, the super earthy flavor of the nettle, the fluffy potato filling, and the sweet caramelized onions. It’s everything you could want in a dumpling, both texture and flavor-wise.
Tips for Making Pierogi
- Roll the dough *very thin* (like 3mm thin)
- Allow the filling to dry out so it’s not super wet
- Make a big batch and freeze some of it *before boiling* for future deliciousness
- If you’re boiling a big batch of pierogi to serve multiple people, toss them in a bit of olive oil after straining and lay them out on a plate not touching to keep them from sticking together
As for pierogi making tips, the biggest piece of advice I have is to roll the dough as thin as you can, ideally it should be *very slightly* transparent, to where you can see some light through it if you hold it up in front of your light fixture. This will keep the pierogi nice and soft after it boils, because the thicker the dough, the firmer + less tender the pierogi. This is tricky, though, because you don’t want it so thin that it bursts, either. You also want to make sure not to leave too much air inside the pierogi when you stuff it, otherwise the air pockets can make it burst when it’s boiling.
I made a video to show a bit more about the potato and dill pierogi stuffing above, and there’s also a video here that’s helpful for a close-up of the folding technique. It looks so fancy when you’re done, but it’s actually very easy to do once you get the hang of it. You can also feel free to substitute the nettle for spinach if you don’t have any, just make sure to press any excess water out of the spinach so the filling isn’t too wet. Since pierogi are a bit of a process to make, I like to do a big batch and then freeze half of it for later. They cook up really well after being frozen. They’re perfect for a lazy + slow summer day’s project in the kitchen, I hope you enjoy them, my friends!
And PS — If you do have nettle around and are looking for other tasty ways to preserve it, I highly recommend this zesty lemon + nettle pistachio pesto.
Nettle Potato and Dill Pierogi
Makes about 50 individual pierogi dumplings.
Nettle Pierogi Filling
- 2 cups fresh nettle leaves stems removed
- 2 yellow onions finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound russet potatoes peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 8 ounces chevre
- 8 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 ounces fresh dill finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Black pepper to taste
- 3 1/3 cups plus 3 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 small eggs
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 teaspoons lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup of the caramelized onions
- 1 ounce fresh dill finely chopped
Nettle Pierogi Filling
- The filling can be made a day ahead of time and left covered in the refrigerator overnight.
Make sure to use gloves when handling the raw nettle leaves. Blanche the nettle leaves in lightly salted boiling water for 90 seconds, then drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze the nettle leaves between the palms of your hands, pressing them together over a sink to get all the extra water out of them (this is very important, we don't want the filling to be too wet!) Set the squeezed nettle aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and the salt and stir until coated in the hot oil. Cook until softened and translucent, stirring every few minutes. Then reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking until the onions are lightly golden, about 30 to 40 minutes more, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Reserve 1/4 cup of the caramelized onions for serving, and use the remaining for the filling.
- While the onions are cooking, boil the potatoes in a medium-sized pot of lightly salted boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature and dry out a bit.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the potatoes and the nettle until the potatoes are coarsely mashed and the nettles are chopped. Alternately, you can mash the potatoes by hand and finely chop the cooked nettle and then stir them together.
- In a large bowl, stir together the chevre and cottage cheese until combined. Add the potato mixture, the filling portion of the caramelized onions, the dill, and the garlic and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste as you like.
Divide the filling into 50 equal-sized ovals, shape and size similar to a medjool date. If you have a kitchen scale this is easier, just measure the total weight of the filling in grams and divide that by 50. So for example, I ended up with 960 grams of filling total, which makes for about 20 grams per oval. Place them on a large baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, and refrigerate them uncovered while you make the dough.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the cracked eggs and the butter. Start stirring with a wooden spoon while slowly adding the water until incorporated. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead the dough until elastic and smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky you can add a touch more flour, but don't over-add otherwise the dough will be too firm.
- Divide the dough into 4 parts and form each into rough oval shapes, cover 3 of the portions and set them aside. Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface until it is very thin, about 3mm. Cut out 12 to 13 circles (very close together) with a 3.25" round cookie cutter or jar lid.
Pick up one of the circle of dough and place a filling mound in the center. Fold the dough over it like a half moon, and pinch the edges together, pushing down on the filling with your finger as-needed to keep the filling inside the pierogi so it doesn't touch the edges. Crimp the edges by making folds as seen in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO5QnIVABdQ
- Place the pierogi on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining 3.25" circle cut-outs of dough, and then repeat with the remaining 3 portions of dough.
- If you want to freeze some for a future quick + tasty meal, lay them out in a baking sheet, not touching, cover with a sheet of plastic wrap, and place them in the freezer overnight. Then you can take them off the baking pan once they're frozen and toss them in a resealable container or plastic bag and seal it tight and keep it in the freezer to cook + consume within 1 year.
Boiling + Serving the Pierogi
- To prepare, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pierogi and stir *gently* while they cook to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the pierogi rise to the top of the pot, allow them to cook for 2 minutes more before transferring them with a slotted spoon to a plate. Toss the cooked pierogi with a tablespoon of butter, the caramelized onions, and the dill, and enjoy!