If you are a vegetarian traveling to Poland, you will quickly notice that most traditional dishes rely heavily on pork and sausages. And although I’m not a vegetarian myself, the amount of meat in Polish food was too much for me too. I do enjoy a good meat, but don’t feel like eating it every day is essential. Even if it is possible to make some traditional Polish dishes like bigos or golabki vegetarian, they kinda lose some authenticity without meat. This is why I prefer to stick to the dishes that are traditionally vegetarian. For all the veggie foodies out there, here is the list of the best Polish dishes to try on your trip to Poland.
Vegetarian main course
To start the list on a happy note, I have to tell you that the most famous Polish dish is actually very vegetarian-friendly! Pierogi are the dumplings that come with a variety of fillings. It can be potato and cheese, cabbage, mushrooms, spinach, meat and even some sweet fillings. One type of pierogi that you will probably see everywhere is pierogi ruskie which are filled with potato and quark cheese. If you are ever in doubt what to eat in Poland, just look for pierogi as they are the easiest Polish food to find in a meatless variation.
Placki is the Polish name for potato pancakes. They might be served with sweet or savory sauce as a main dish or sometimes even as a side dish to meat. A vegetarian option is popular with sour cream or mushroom sauce.
Polish Vegetarian Soups
Soups take are an important part of Polish cuisine and many of them are traditionally vegetarian or have a meatless option as well. The two most famous soups are barszcz czerwony (beet borscht) and zurek (sour rye meal).
The main ingredient of barszcz czerwony is beetroot. Other ingredients may vary and include potatoes, cooked beans or hard-boiled eggs. There are many variations to the barszcz, some of them contain meat, but from my experience finding vegetarian version is not difficult at all.
Zurek is made with sour rye flour and other ingredients that depend on region and personal preferences: sausages, smoked bacon, meat, mushrooms, potatoes, hard boiled eggs. The vegetarian versions also exist but might be a bit more difficult to find than barszcz.
Some other less known but worth trying vegetarian soups are:
Kapusniak – cabbage/sauerkraut soup.
Chlodnik – cold soup made of soured milk, beet leaves, beets, cucumbers and fresh dill.
Zupa ogorkowa – soup of sour, salted cucumbers (sometimes includes pork).
Zupa pomidorowa – tomato soup.
As you see, there are not too many vegetarian dishes in traditional Polish cuisine. On the good side, even after the main course, you will still have space in your stomach for a dessert! I would need to write another post to name all of Polish desserts, so here are only a few of my favorite ones.
Nalesniki are thin Polish pancakes with different fillings like cheese, jam, fruits in a sweet variant. You might also find nalesniki in savory variation served as a main dish.
Sernik is made of sweet curd cheese and is a Polish version of cheesecake that tastes different from American cheesecake. There are many different types of sernik: with chocolate, raisins, fruits, baked and unbaked. If you are a big fan of cheesecake, Poland will be a paradise for you.
Makowiec is kind of poppy seed roll. This is a traditional Polish cake and must-try.
Paczki are often called Polish donuts. The round east cake is deep fried until it becomes brown. The typical fillings are chocolate, jam, sweet curd cheese and more.
Which of those dishes would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below!