Although most traditional recipes rely heavily on pork and sausage, perhaps the most widely known (and adored) Polish dish comes with an infinite number of vegetarian possibilities: the pierogi. For something more budget-friendly than a restaurant or for a quick snack on the go, hit a bakery, a precel cart, or an outdoor fruit and veg stand. Poland offers a nice variety of breads and tasty cheeses, as well- try buying a piece of oscypek from an old woman on the street. Polish cuisine is also pretty reliant on cabbage and beets, making it super easy to get a simple yet awesome salad of those root vegetables-pickled salads of beets, cabbage, onions, carrots, and gerkins are the norm. Zapiekanka is a less-healthy, but equally delicious, alternative to the fresh markets, and can be found on most city blocks.
*Important note: in Poland, lunch is the main meal, while dinner typically consists of a few pickled vegetables and tea. * Keep this in mind when consuming vodka-or, more specifically, vishnovka-with locals.
Dishes (plus a drink) to Try
Chlodnik Zupa: a cold beet soup with dill and a hard-boiled egg. Not for everyone, but it’s as Polish as you can get.
Pierogies: dumplings stuffed with sweet or sharp cheese, mushrooms, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, or combinations of all of the above. They are amazing when topped with sour cream or apple sauce. Sweet pierogies are stuffed with fruit and cinnamon, and are glazed with butter and sugar.
Placki ziemniczane z sosem grzybowyn: potato pancakes with meadow mushroom gravy.
Zapiekanka: a long toasted baguette with cheese, mushrooms, and ketchup. At some places, you can add whatever you like on top, from thousand island dressing to jalepenos.
Kapusta kiszonky: cooked sour cabbage, a.k.a. sauerkraut.
Knedle: a dumpling stuffed with fruit and topped with butter and sugar. The dough in this dumpling is different from pierogi dough.
Oscypek: baked cheese (can be from goats or cows) that is sold by the small wedge on the street by the people who made it.
Precel: Polish-style pretzel topped with sesame or poppy seeds. These are sold from carts all over the cities, and cost about $0.48.
Grzane piwo: hot beer with spices and ginger syrup or honey. Sounds strange, I know, but this drink is the pub favorite on a chilly day.
Reading about how to be a vegetarian in your own country is really funny. I had no idea that zapiekanka is typically Polish, I’ve always thought it’s just another fast food. It’s true that traditional Polish cuisine is quite meaty but we have a great variety of soups which can be easily made without meat, for example pomidorowa (tomato soup), krupnik (with gruel), grzybowa (mushroom soup), kapuśniak (cabbage soup), kalafiorowa (cauliflower soup), grochówka (with peas) or barszcz (beetroot soup). Although, it is necessary to ask whether the soup is made from vegetable or meat bullion. You should try also our cakes, sernik (cheesecake), piernik (gingerbread) and makowiec (poppyseed cake) are very Polish.
It is easy to be a vegetarian Poland but of course you may encounter some problems. Restaurants or bars in smaller towns do not always have vegetarian option and for some people, especially elder, a fish it’s a vegetarian option. ? But in bigger cities there are now plenty of vegan, vegetarian or vege friendly restaurants and bars. This website could be useful while looking for such places: http://www.vegemapa.pl/web/mapa.html (unfortunately, without English version).