Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki

March 17, 2022     Updated May 16, 2022    Jump to Recipe

piroshki

These Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki are inspired by my Ukrainian grandmother and my viral quesadilla recipe.

Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Katharine Hepburn.  Jimmy Stewart, Steve McQueen, Cary Grant.  Jim Morrison and Elvis.  Clyde Barrow and John Dillinger.  Chief Wyandanah, Henry David Thoreau, Amelia Earhart.  John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway.

England, Ireland, Scotland.  Sweden, Russia, and Poland.  Germany, France, North America.  And Ukraine. 

Like most Americans, my family is from all over the world.  

But the connection I feel to my Eastern European heritage is particularly strong.  I can’t fully explain this pull towards Eastern Europe.  But it’s there; I sense it every time I visit these countries.  And I’m drawn to read about their histories.

With the current tragedy in Ukraine, I value my roots in this part of the world more strongly than ever. 

As exciting as it is to have a blood connection to the famous names listed above, I feel a much deeper pride in being the great-great-granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants whose long-ago decisions and dreams shaped the life I know today.

piroshki

Ukrainian Piroshki: Family History & Inspiration

The following recipe honors the brave people of Ukraine, and my Ukrainian great-grandmother, Stella.

My beautiful great-grandmother Stella, a first generation American.

Stella was a first generation American.  Her parents immigrated from Ukraine through Ellis Island, just after the turn of the century. 

Here’s a little bit about their inspiring story. 

Anthony

Stella’s father Anthony, my great-great grandfather, was brilliant. 

Fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, German, Polish, and later, English, Anthony was a city clerk in Zydaczow, Ukraine.  His beautiful writing and ability to read in multiple languages was an invaluable skill set.

My great-great grandfather Anthony.

Anthony was also loyal and a risk-taker: to help a friend whose fiancée became pregnant before their marriage, Anthony forged the public record of his friend’s wedding date, moving it up several months.  Anthony’s edit made it appear that conception of the baby occurred inside of wedlock.  The noble—yet illegal—act saved Anthony’s friend and the child from disgrace.

It also changed the course of Anthony’s future.

When the forgery was discovered, Anthony was banished from his village.

According to Stella, after his banishment, Anthony went to Russia.  In the streets of Moscow, he blatantly disregarded the communist regime’s ban on religion by reading the Bible aloud, on a podium no less. 

Anthony’s daring earned him a living, as most of the Russian, faith-starved passersby were illiterate.  Other than Anthony’s recitations, they had no way to hear or read the Bible.  

When he’d saved enough money, Anthony immigrated to America, settling in New York.  

My great-great grandmother Roze.

Roze

It was in New York that Anthony married a young, beautiful seamstress whom he’d known in Zydaczow.  Her name was Roze.  A gifted linguist herself, Roze was fluent in Ukrainian, Polish, and German. 

Not long after the birth of my great-grandmother Stella, Anthony and Roze moved their young family to Los Angeles, where the entrepreneurial couple opened a successful grocery store.

My great-grandmother Stella with my great-grandfather Willis, a couple gorgeous enough for the movies.

Stella

For all her 102 years on this earth, Stella was smart and sharp as a tack.  As a girl, she helped her father make change in the grocery store.  She skipped grades in elementary school until another bump up would have put her a grade above her eldest brother.

In addition to her smarts, Stella loved to cook.  From Roze, she learned how to make piroshki, a recipe from “the old country.”  The time intensive process behind this Ukrainian dumpling has been passed down by the women in my family ever since.

piroshki

Piroshki: A Family Tradition

For as long as I can remember, piroshki have been a part of just about every special occasion in my family. 

My great-grandmother, at 95 years-old, even insisted on making piroshki herself—by hand, for the reception following my wedding.  I will forever treasure her heart-felt sacrifice of love and labor.  No other gift from my grandma could have had more meaning.

I learned how to make piroshki from my great-grandmother Stella, my Grandma Sally, and my mom.  Now, as my mom and I teach my own daughter her culinary heritage, Stella must be proud to see the piroshki tradition passed down to a sixth generation.

A Few Things!

Piroshki vs. Pierogi

Many sources say piroshki are made with leavened dough, while pierogi are made with unleavened dough.  The dumplings in the recipe that follows are made with unleavened dough. 

But I’m still calling them piroshki, just as the women in my family—back to my Ukrainian great-great-grandmother, always have.

I’ll never be able to call this family recipe by any other name.

New and Old Piroshki Tradition

For the most part, the piroshki dough recipe below stays true to Stella’s family recipe.  I made a few minor changes, and added paprika.  But that’s it.

My filling, on the other hand, isn’t traditional at all. 

I fused my piroshki heritage with new recipe traditions in my own home, and used the same filling from my viral Grilled Potato Spinach Quesadillas recipe: potatoes, spinach, and cheddar.

Yes, these are Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki.

I think Stella would be proud of the similarities and the differences.

piroshki

Piroshki Size

I recommend using a 2 cup, glass pyrex bowl as the template for each piroshki round.  It makes the perfect size piroshki in my book.

My Favorite Piroshki Tools

My favorite spatula for Grilled Potato Spinach Quesadillas is also my favorite spatula for Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki.  Technically, it’s a cookie spatula.  But its small size makes it easier to control where things land.  You can find this spatula here on Amazon [aff. link], or here in my new Amazon store.

And here’s my favorite fryer skimmer for getting the piroshki out of the boiling water, before frying [aff. link].

piroshki
5 from 6 votes

Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki

These Grilled Potato Spinach Piroshki are inspired by my Ukrainian grandmother and my viral quesadilla recipe.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time30 mins
Boiling time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Servings: 30 piroshki
Print Recipe

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice; buttermilk is most authentic
  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp paprika

For the filling:

  • 1 ½ pounds potatoes, I prefer Yukon gold and I do not peel them
  • ¼ cup almond milk, or milk of choice
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp mascarpone, optional, but highly recommended
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion salt
  • tsp pepper
  • 2-3 cups spinach, fresh

Everything else:

  • 2 cups cheddar, freshly grated
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Extra flour, for rolling out the dough

Instructions

Make the dough

  • To a large mixing bowl, add the melted butter and eggs. Whisk together until the eggs and butter incorporate, then add the milk. Whisk again until you’ve got a mostly smooth mixture.
  • Now add the flour, salt, and paprika. Knead until the dough comes together. It will be smooth and pliable. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. You may need to add up to 1 cup more flour depending on the weather, but start slow, only adding a Tbsp or two at a time.
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, cover, and let the dough rest for at least 10-15 minutes.

Make the potato filling

  • While the dough rests, you can make the potato filling.

Boil the potatoes

  • Peel the potatoes if not using Yukon gold, then cut them into halves. If they’re large potatoes, cut them into quarters.
  • Place the potatoes in a large soup pot. Fill the soup pot with water so that the potatoes are submerged, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. A fork should easily pass through each potato.

Drain, season, and mash the potatoes

  • Drain the potatoes, and put them back in the pot. Now add the butter, milk, mascarpone, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. With a handheld mixer or a potato masher, mash the potatoes until creamy and mostly smooth.
  • Now add the spinach to the potatoes. The potatoes will still be very warm, and the spinach will wilt. Use a spatula to mix the spinach into the potatoes until it’s wilted down and is evenly distributed throughout.
  • Potato filling is done, set aside.

Roll out the dough

  • Flour a clean workspace. Take 1 section of dough, and roll it out until the dough is about ⅛ of an inch thick.
  • Use a 2 cup glass pyrex bowl, or any similar sized bowl, to cut out the dough rounds for the piroshki. You will get about 6-7 piroshki rounds from each of the 4 dough sections.
  • (Refer to photo in the article above for this and the following step, if needed.)

Compile the piroshki

  • Measure about 1 Tbsp of potato filling onto each piroshki round. Spread the filling so it mostly covers one half of the piroshki dough round. Don’t spread filling too close to the edges of the dough. Doing so will make it difficult to seal the edges when we fold the other half of the dough over the filling.
  • Now sprinkle about 1 ½ tsp of cheddar over the potato filling.
  • Next, cover the filling with the other half of the dough, pinching the edges together. If the edges don’t adhere, dip you index finger in water, rim the dough edge with water, and crimp the edges again. Using a very small amount of flour with the water can also be helpful.
  • Repeat the process of rolling, cutting, and compiling the piroshki with the remaining 3 sections of dough. (You can also freeze the remaining dough for later use.)

Boil the piroshki

  • Fill a large soup pot about ⅔ of the way full with water. Bring the water to a boil.
  • Carefully lower a few piroshki into the boiling water. I recommend boiling 3-6 piroshki at a time. As soon as they float to the top, cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer the piroshki for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the piroshki from the water with a slotted spoon or fryer skimmer. Pat lightly with a paper towel to remove excess water, then place the boiled piroshki on a baking sheet to dry.
  • Repeat the boiling process with the rest of the piroshki.
  • At this point, you can fry the piroshki, or freeze them to fry later.

Fry the piroshki

  • Add a few Tbsp of canola oil to a skillet, preferably nonstick. Turn the heat to medium, and let the oil warm, about 1 minute.
  • Keeping the pan on medium heat, add a few piroshki to the pan, and fry for about 3-5 minutes, until golden brown.
  • Flip the piroshki with your spatula, and fry the other side until golden brown, another 3-5 minutes.
  • Place the fried piroshki on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove excess oil.
  • Repeat the frying processes until all the piroshki have been fried.

Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Piroshki are vegetarian.
You can freeze piroshki after boiling them (before frying) for up to three months.

© Copyright 2022 Vanguard of Hollywood

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Kelly

    5 stars
    I’m also Ukrainian and loved reading your family history. This is definitely a time intense recipe, but it was so worth it! Made these piroshkis for my family and they were gone so fast!

    1. Shannon

      That is so nice to hear Kelly, thank you!

  2. kSmith

    5 stars
    The timing of this post feels so appropriate! I’ve only had piroshki once – at a wedding. Thank you for sharing a recipe!

    1. Shannon

      Thanks for your kind words! I hope you enjoy the recipe. 😃

  3. David @ Spiced

    5 stars
    What a great story, Shannon – I really enjoyed reading your family’s history. I love food with a story behind it, and 6th generation is certainly a story. I wasn’t familiar with piroshki before this post, so it’s interesting to learn about the differences between piroshki and pierogi. I love the flavors in this filling, too!!

    1. Shannon

      Thanks for reading David! I love food with a story behind it too. Definitely makes these piroshki special!

  4. Jeff the Chef

    I was surprised that your pioshki are made from an unleavened dough … but on the other hand, I’m not surprised. There’s a natural desire in many of us to want clear cut definitions of things, but with foods, that often just not the case. The dough ingredients look very, very interesting. On another note, thanks for the stories about your ancestors! I loved it, and I loved the old pictures. So amazing that your great grandfather’s kindness would see him expelled.

    1. Shannon

      That’s such a great point about definitions, Jeff. It’s so true. Thanks for reading!

  5. TashaG

    5 stars
    Okay, these piroshkis are so scrumptious! Definitely a keeper recipe! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Shannon

      Thanks Tasha!

  6. Eckel Julia

    Thank you Shannon. I loved your stories of your ancestors. You really are fortunate to come from such brilliant and strong people. I am going to make the prioshkis. Mainly because you made it. I’ve tasted your great grandma Stella’s and they were delicious, but I want to taste yours. Truthfully I wish you were here to make them for us because I know how much work goes into them. Love you. Grandma Julie

    1. Shannon

      Thanks so much Grandma Julie! I am lucky to come from such amazing people, and that the oral and written histories are so well-chronicled so I can know their stories. I wish I lived closer so I could make you and Grandpa piroshki! Let’s make it happen next time I visit. 😃

  7. Carole Taylor

    Shannon….what a wonderful tribute to mom and our heritage. You’ve done a perfect presentation of the recipe and I hope that your followers continue to enjoy this taste of Eastern Europe as they celebrate Easter…a time for families and fine food.

    1. Shannon

      Thanks so much for reading Aunt Carole! Your kind words mean so much. Thank you for all your work preserving the stories of our family so that future generations can know them. Piroshki is certainly the perfect recipe for Easter.

  8. 5 stars
    I didn’t know you have Ukrainian roots! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and photographs – I did enjoy it. And, of course, this tragedy happening in Ukraine is so surreal and heartbreaking…
    And those piroshki? Absolutely delicious with this savoury potato filling!

    1. Shannon

      Thanks Ben!

  9. Vicky

    5 stars
    Love these grilled potato spinach piroshki. Simple and delicious. Never tried. Something to to next weekend. Thanks.

    1. Shannon

      Thanks Vicky! Hope you enjoy them.

  10. Paul Eckel

    5 stars
    Wow! This has been wonderful to discover the recipes, stories and family relevance of these Ukrainian foods! It makes me even more supportive of the Ukrainians.

    1. Shannon

      Thanks Grandpa! Piroshki is such a special family recipe. I’m more proud than ever of our Ukrainian roots.

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