Dinner just got a whole lot easier with frozen pierogi from your grocery store aisles. Served with sautéed kale & cashew cream cheese, this is a vegan main dish that really sticks with you.
For years, vegan pierogi have been a mythical aspiration – impossible to attain.
I’ve searched for that elusive target in frozen cases at natural grocery stores, chains, and specialty markets. If they had a freezer and pierogi on display, I pored over the ingredients.
Time after time, there was a moment of hope followed by inevitable disappointment as I walked away with an empty cart.
What are pierogi?
If you’ve never had pierogi, think of them as the Polish equivalent of ravioli. However, these dumplings are stuffed with fillings like potatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and/or sauerkraut.
I first fell in love with pierogi when I encountered them years ago at Trader Joe’s. In my vegetarian days, I always had a package in my freezer for quick and filling lunches or dinners.
After I went vegan and no longer wanted the kind stuffed with dairy-based cheese or made with egg in the dough, I tried my hand at making my own. The results were terrific, and if you’re ever looking for a project, the potato pierogi from Vegan Brunch are wonderful.
However, homemade pierogi are more of a commitment than I typically want. That’s why I made a recipe for pierogi quesadillas a while back, which are also totally delicious. They’re a worthy potato delivery vessel when you need a way to transport spuds from plate to mouth ASAP.
But last month my quixotic pipe dream was realized at last.
David and I were at Fresh Thyme grocery store when I saw a couple kinds of their store-brand pierogi in the freezer case. One was obviously not vegan since cheese was right on the front.
So I scanned the ingredients on the potato fried onion variety. Lo and behold, it was vegan!
Cue the violins and choir, we have success! (You can see the outside of the package on my Instagram feed.)
David heard my audible gasping from around the bend and came trotting over to see what I’d discovered. He’d never actually had pierogi. It wasn’t in his regular dining repertoire before I came into his life.
And since we’ve been vegan for the majority of the time we’ve been together, his life has been pierogi-free for all of these years.
Vegan pierogi with sautéed kale
Using frozen pierogi, vegan pierogi with sautéed kale is a simple lunch or weeknight meal. The whole shebang is ready in about 20 minutes.
The perfectly browned vegan pierogi have a little bit of crunch before giving way to the pillowy potatoes underneath.
I deglaze the pan with vegan butter, and add a helping of green onions, which are in season right now. The mild green onions don’t overwhelm the flavor. And they cook quickly, needing just a little bit of time in the skillet until they are nutty brown.
I serve the pierogi over garlicky sautéed kale. Then just add some freshly ground pepper and a dollop of cashew cream cheese. Any flavor of Kite Hill cream cheese, Treeline French-style cashew cheese, or Heidi Ho Ne Chèvre are my usual choices.
If you’d prefer to make your own, the cashew cream cheese recipe in Artisan Vegan Cheese is excellent and not too tricky.
Real talk: I managed to finish the first whole bag of pierogi myself. And David never got to try it.
But then we got three more bags. And he finally got to sample some for himself! Verdict: He’s a fan!
So now you know, if you want to divide this recipe for one person, it works just as well as doing the full recipe for two.
People sometimes assume that food bloggers always have involved, intricate meals. But very often mine are simple and fuss-free.
And now that pierogi are back in my life, I have no doubt this weeknight-friendly dish will be coming into my rotation of easy vegan meals often.
Vegan pierogi with sautéed kale
- Water + pinch of salt for boiling
- 8 to 12 frozen vegan pierogi*
- 2 teaspoons organic canola oil or other neutral flavored, high heat oil
- 2 green onions sliced with ends removed
- 2 teaspoons vegan butter
- 2 Tablespoons cashew cream cheese
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
For sautéed kale
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch curly kale chopped with ribs removed**
- 2 Tablespoons water Plus an extra splash, if needed
- Pinch salt
To make pierogi
- Fill a soup pot with water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully put in 8 to 12 frozen vegan pierogi (depending on your appetite). Stir occasionally, so that the pierogi don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Allow the pierogi to float, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the pierogi, removing as much liquid as possible.
- Bring a large non-stick skillet to a medium high heat with organic canola oil. Once the oil is warm enough, add the pierogi to the skillet. (You want the pierogi to sizzle when they enter the skillet.)
- Cook for a few minutes on one side, until the pierogi have nice brown marks. (Don't move them during that period. You want them to be nice and brown, which only comes from not being jostled around too much.) Once they are toasty brown on one side, flip them over and allow them to brown on that side.
- Add sliced green onions to the skillet, and brown.
- Once everything is beautifully toasty, add vegan butter to the skillet to deglaze, combine, and turn off the heat. Serve on a bed of sautéed kale with a dollop of cashew cream cheese & freshly ground pepper.
To make sautéed kale
- Either carefully dry the inside of the soup pot and use it, or bring a skillet to a medium heat with one teaspoon organic canola oil. Sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, about a minute or so.
- Add chopped kale, 2 Tablespoons of water, and a pinch of salt. Continue cooking the kale, stirring occasionally, until it is wilted and soft. This will take a few minutes. (Lower the heat & add a splash of water if the pot or skillet gets too dry.)
- Taste for salt and add more, if needed.