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Polish Recipes Newsletter

The Wigilia Meal: Top Polish Christmas Recipes

Since eating pierogi is such a tradition during the Christmas holidays, below you can find a few ways to serve pierogi at any dinner party or event, along with lots of Polish Christmas recipes. Or, you may decide to do a traditional Polish Christmas dinner with the full Wigilia Feast. Here, no Polish Christmas recipe will contain meat--it is a a way to remember that one must always give something up in the goal of gaining. According to religious tradition, the Poles even try to avoid using animal fats in the cooking for their Christmas Eve meal. Yes, that means no butter...

About The Polish Christmas Eve Meal: The Wigilia Feast

The Wigilia meal is made from foods that come from the four corners of the earth: forest, sea, field, and orchard. This is why you will see such a rich variety of recipes based on root vegetables, dried mushrooms from the forest, fruit from the orchard, fish from the sea, and pierogi from flour from the field.  To start the Polish Christmas Eve meal, friends, family, and neighbors will gather around the table for the unique Polish ceremony--the breaking of bread--as a symbol of love, friendship, and forgiveness.  They typically use a white, transparent communion wafer called oplatek.  Centuries ago, feudal-estate masters would forget the feudal order by inviting the servants to join them in this emotional dinner celebration -- uniting friends, enemies, the sick, poor, and lonely. To honor this Polish Christmas tradition, make sure you don't forget to add an extra place on the table for the lonely traveler who may knock on the door or for loved ones who are far away but may want to join their families in spirit.Polish Wigilia Recipe Ideas

After the breaking of bread, many Poles celebrate Christmas Eve by starting the Wigilia meal with warming beet root (beet) or sweet almond soup, as well as some dishes using vegetables from the field such as sauerkraut, stuffed kohlrabi, and potatoes. The main dish is usually whole carp or pike and a steaming platter of sauerkraut and meatless pierogies. The meal ends with dried fruit compote and honey cookies or a poppy seed roll. Poppy seeds are always included as a symbol of peaceful sleep, and honey for sweetness and contentment. In the United States, it can be difficult to find fresh carp or pike, so substitutes are more common. In either country, a Polish Christmas will always have a seemingly endless array of appetizers, garnishes, and accompaniments. Traditionally the Wigilia meal featured 12 dishes (representing the 12 apostles), but today the number of dishes is typically determined by the number of guests.  

We have a list of Wigilia recipes below, some common, and some recipes not so common. Some ingredients are more difficult to get in the states, so we decided to mix it up and give you a few more  menu ideas.  Note that heated saurkraut and dried fruit compote is not listed, since both are pretty easy to make.  But, we recommend to add them too!
 

Polish Christmas Eve Dinner, Wigilia Recipe Ideas:

 

Polish beet soup, Christmas Borscht

 

 

 

Christmas borscht (Warm beet root soup)

Start your Polish Christmas Eve dinner with Borscht (Barszcz), a soup that dates back to the 16th century. If you are looking for a Borscht recipe to celebrate Wigilia, simply use a vegetable broth and omit the ham bone. Some also want just a broth. You can easily discard the veggies in the end and serve just the broth as well in this recipe.

Mushroom Barley Soup, Krupnik Polski

Mushroom Barley Soup (Krupnik Polski) 

This is a classic Polish mushroom soup recipe that has a hearty mushroom flavor along with the subtle bite of barley. You can add more wild, dried mushrooms to increase the flavor. Also, just substitute the chicken stock for vegetable stock to make it meatless for Wigilia.

Polish Breaded Pan Fried fish

Breaded Pan Fried Fish (Ryba smażona w panierce)

Polish pan-fried fish fillets have a light, delicate flavor and crispy crust. Most of the fish the Polish pan fry are perch, carp, and other lake fish, but you can easily substitute any white fish for this Polish recipe.

Beet & Horseradish Sauce for Thanksgiving

Polish Beet Horseradish Sauce - Ćwikła)

Try this Polish Beet sauce recipe as a side to any fried fish--a Polish favorite at many holiday meals.

Poached Haddock with Dill

Poached Haddock with Dill Sauce 

This is a fabulous Polish fish recipe that was traditionally made with Haddock, which is very common in Poland, but you could substitute Haddock for any white fish (I used cod).

 

Polish Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder (Zupa Rybna)

Polish Fish Soup (Zupa rybna) is traditionally made with the whole fish--the head, skin, and all. Instead, I decided to use filets to make it a bit easier to make. You can use cod, salmon, Tilapia, or any fish for this recipe.

Pierogi Recipe for Polish Thanksgiving recipes

Polish Pierogi with Caramelized Onions

If you want to make a Christmas Polish, pierogi is a must. In our Piszczek family, we always serve Cabbage Mushroom pierogi since it has no meat or eggs. Pierogi are just boiled and topped with caramelized onions. For Christmas Day, Potato and Farmer's cheese pierogi is enjoyed, topped with caramelized onions and bacon and dipped in sour cream.

Buckwheat Groats for Polish Thanksgiving Recipes

Buckwheat Groats with Mushrooms (Kasza z grzybami) 

Instead of doing a rice dish, or any grain, try roasted buckwheat with mushrooms and caramelized onions. Just leave out the bacon for the true Wigilia celebration.

Baked Fish for Christmas Eve Wigilia

Baked Fish with Tomatoes & Zucchini

The Polish love a variety of fish dishes, especially on Christmas Eve for Wigilia. This baked cod recipe is a healthy alternative to fried fish and offers a tad of spices to give it a Mediterranean kick.  Again, we use cod but any fish will work.

 

Sauerkraut With Noodles (Lazanki)

Sauerkraut with Noodles (Lazanki)

This is a surprisingly flavorful Polish dish with simple ingredients called Lazanki. Some say that Bona Sforza, the Polish Queen from Italy, helped introduce this cabbage and noodles recipe to Poland in the 1500s. Most Polish recipes require meat in their Lazanki, but Lazanki can easily be served vegetarian, as it is often served on Christmas Eve for the Wigilia feast.

 

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage Recipe

Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage Recipe

This Polish Red Cabbage recipe is a great holiday dinner. This recipe can serve up to 10 people as a side dish. Make in advance since spiced red cabbage is even better after it sits for a few days.

Roasted Carrots Recipe -- Polish Thanksgiving Recipe

Honey-Glazed Roasted Carrots

You will never eat carrots the same way again after trying these Polish honey-glazed carrots topped with dill.  Easy to make, simply divine.  A must have side dish. Roasted carrots not so common on Christmas Eve, but root vegetables at Wigilia, so we added it.

 

 

Polish Almond Soup Recipe

Polish Almond Soup Recipe (Zupa Migdalowa)

Zupa migdalowa (Almond Soup) is a traditional part of the Polish Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia, where it is enjoyed either at the beginning of the meal or after the fish entree. For Christmas eve, the soup is typically not served with a raw egg yolk.

Leek Salad ~ Polish Thanksgiving Recipes

Polish Leek Apple Salad

You can never have too many salads, especially if you are Polish. This is super refreshing salad with leek, apple, lemon, honey, and parsley. Can also be made in advance.

Polish Beet Salad -- Polish Thanksgiving Recipes

 

Warm Beet Root Salad

This is a very simple warm beet salad with beets, onions, balsamic vinegar, honey, and parsley. If you want a cold beet salad, you can make this in advance and serve it chilled. Just let it sit in the fridge over night and serve with pine nuts and basil the next day.

Red Cabbage Salad with Orange Pecans ~ Thanksgiving Recipes

Red Cabbage Salad with Oranges & Pecans

This salad is not only delicious with a perfect blend of sweet, sour, softness, and crunch--but it is a colorful dish for the dinner table. It can also be made in advance so you have less to do on Christmas Eve or Day. You can also try a warm Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage recipe that is popular on the holidays (or see above).

Polish Plum Cake -- Thanksgiving Recipes

Polish Plum Cake

We have several versions of this recipe.  This one is a light, buttery-lemon cake with fresh plums on top. The cake is more like a scone, something nice and light after a big Christmas meal.  

With Pudding: If you are looking for a Polish cake with a vanilla pudding on top, check out our Polish Cake Recipe II.  

Polish Spiced Cookies


Polish Honey Spiced Cookies (Pierniczki)

These delectable spiced honey cookies are traditionally made at Christmas. It turns out there is a legend to pierniki. One type of pierniki were invented by accident when a Torun baker's daughter, called Katarzyna, baked on her own one day to help out her sick father. She baked the dough too close together and the cookies fused together on the baking sheet into a shape now known as Katarzynki. The town still enjoyed her cookies to reward her for caring for her sick father. 

Of course, this list is just an idea of what you can serve at a Polish Christmas Eve dinner. There are many more common menu items such as carp in aspic, dried fruit compote, noodles with poppy seeds, and mushroom dishes. Poppy seed rolls and Christmas pudding (kutia) is also very popular.

Our specialty, of course, would be how you serve the pierogi.  In Tomek's family, they always served Cabbage Mushroom pierogi since it had no meat or eggs and these would be boiled and topped with caramelized onions.  For Christmas Day, Potato and Farmer's cheese pierogi was enjoyed, topped with caramelized onions and bacon and dipped in sour cream.  If you happen to be doing a party, you can also get creative and even serve pierogi wrapped in bacon, although this is less traditional.  

Wesolych Swiat (Merry Christmas) to all!

Polish Christmas with Pierogi

Have Yourself a Merry Pierogi Christmas!

 

Oblatek

This, I believe, is the best tradition of our large family. Many tears of joy are shed during this time. It is a time to remember all of the Grandparents,Great Aunts and Uncles from the old country. I am very glad that we have shared this tradition with our children and you have done the same. błogosławieństwa the Glon family

Ahh, thanks for sharing!  I

Ahh, thanks for sharing!  I think the Poles have captured the true spirit of the holiday. 

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