Got leftover boiled potatoes? Then make leniwe.
Leniwe means lazy. It’s also the name of a very homey Polish dish that oozes of granny’s love. Compared to making pierogi (dumpling), it’s a quickie. But compared to cooking rice, the leniwe production has more steps to it than just rinse the grains, add water and simmer over a low flame.
Yesterday, my neighbour demo-ed it to me. It’s nothing complicated and most of the basic Polish cookbooks have the recipe. However, it’s so much more endearing when someone who has eaten the dish all her life showed you the steps and regaled you with tales of how her grandmother used to make it.
Leniwe is something like gnocchi but served sweet and weaved into the dough is cottage cheese. There are versions without boiled potatoes but Ania’s granny always used spuds in hers. You feed the tubers into a potato ricer (what a nice name for an implement. It’s reason enough to buy one, don’t you think?). Then add one part flour to 3 parts potato. Throw in about 100g of cottage cheese. Bind the whole thing with 2 eggs. Sorry that the measurements are so vague but like most home recipes, it’s a na oko (by the eye) operation. With dusted hands, take a fistful of the dough and roll it out into a log on a board well-sprinkled with flour. Divide the log by cutting at an angle to get pieces in parallelogram shapes (This is one of those things that are easier done than said). Drop them into a pot of boiling water (Did I not say you have to get the water boiling while churning out the parallelograms? Sorry.). They are ready when they float to the surface, which is very soon. In the meanwhile, melt some butter on a pan and tip in a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Fish the floating leniwe out of the water onto a platter and top with the fried breadcrumbs and sugar. Serve pronto.
Most restaurants don’t have it on their menu. You can still find them in milk bars. My son has only eaten it at his school canteen. On Fridays, traditional Catholics go meat-free. You could have fish, pancakes, vegetarian pierogi or leniwe. I may just not be lazy and make leniwe today.