Awhile back, I stumbled on a Facebook group called “Good Ol’ Mennonite Recipes,” and of course, I had to join to see what kinds of great food people were sharing on there.
I have jealously looked at delicious loaves of bread and mounds of verenike under ham gravy, but I recently stumbled on a post that I absolutely had to try for myself: a pierogi casserole.
I have only made pierogi once. I had to look back at my column archive to see how long it had been, and it was clear back in 2015. I loved them, but they were also lots of work.
If you’re not familiar, pierogi are dumplings that are generally filled with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. They’re boiled and then fried in butter and onions to finish them off, and a lot of people love eating them with a side of sausage.
The casserole mimics the dumplings by using lasagna noodles, cheese, potatoes and plenty of onions, but as I started putting it together, I felt like it was missing something. That “something” turned into lots of garlic and some sausage, too, and this ended up being perfect.
The original recipe comes from the “Good Ol’ Mennonite Recipes” Facebook group. It was posted by Marie Leigh. I added garlic, sausage and more seasoning to my version.
- 9 to 15 lasagna noodles
- 1 small onion diced (I used yellow)
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 2 cups regular cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon onion powder divided
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese divided
- 2 cups mashed potatoes
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare a deep 9-by-13-inch baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Set it aside.
- Boil enough lasagna noodles to be able to cover three layers in your pan. (My local store had long, thin lasagna noodles, so I only needed about nine of them to do the trick.)
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and saute the sausage and onions, breaking apart the sausage as it cooks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- While the sausage cooks, add your cottage cheese, egg and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
- In another bowl, add the mashed potatoes, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper, along with 1 cup shredded cheese and mix well to combine.
- Once your sausage is cooked through, drain off any excess fat.
- To assemble the casserole, start by spooning just a little (maybe a scant 1/4 cup) of your sausage/onion mixture into the bottom of your dish. Place a single layer of noodles on top. Spread about half of your cottage cheese mixture over the noodles, about half of the sausage, and then top with about one third of your mashed potatoes.
- Add another layer of noodles, spread out the rest of the cottage cheese, the rest of sausage, and another third of mashed potatoes.
- Finish with a final layer of noodles and the rest of the mashed potatoes on top.
- Sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheddar on the top, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another five minutes or until the cheese is melty and slightly browned.
- Let the casserole cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
This was a great, filling dinner, and the leftovers were a breeze to reheat, too. I’m sure the original recipe would have been great, but adding the sausage and lots of garlic made it feel like more of a meal with a bit more complexity to the flavor profile.
Plus, it was so, so much easier than making pierogi, which while worth the effort, is definitely difficult to find time to do.
And now I have a new “good ol’” recipe to add to my repertoire, thanks to some neat folks on Facebook. Social media can be a horrible place, but when you’re talking food, sometimes it can be just the opposite.
This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 24, 2022.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.