There are so many Ukrainian food recipes with potatoes! For example, mashed potato patties (potato zrazy) stuffed with canned peas puree. Add an interesting gravy or sauce and the masterpiece is ready
You know, if someone found a potato lovers club, I would join it without hesitation! Well, how can you not love potatoes? They are amazing in various preparations – fried, baked, in salads, boiled, in a tender puree and a hundred other interpretations. Potatoes are such an extraordinary (although, at first glance, inconspicuous) miracle of nature, which can rightfully be called the “second bread” in many national cuisines.
What other vegetable can boast of a museum dedicated to it? And potatoes can! There is a potato museum in Belgium, which occupies as many as three floors and annually attracts potato fans from all over the world.
European potato recipes history
Once upon a time, in South and Central America (or rather in Peru, Mexico, Bolivia and Chile), wild potatoes grew between the bushes, trees and other greenery near rivers and streams. The Indians have been looking closely at them for a long time, and soon they realized that the potato was an unusual plant and its fancy tubers could be eaten. Of course, they didn’t realize it immediately… at first, they were attracted by green potato berries, which turned out to be terribly poisonous. I don’t know how true this is, but some “potato – historical” sources note that the Indians were very angry with the potatoes because of their berries and in a fit of anger began to uproot them from the ground along with the roots and it was then that they saw strange underground tubers (at that time they were not at all like the usual round or oblong varietal potatoes we are accustomed to, they were potatoes of a strange and unsightly shape, some even resembled human figures!). After the sad experience with berries, the locals didn’t trust potatoes, but eventually decided to give them another chance – this time they left the poisonous berries alone and took up the tubers. They boiled them, tasted them and began to wait… Fortunately, no one’s stomach got sick, everyone remained alive, healthy and even full! Well, the potatoes at that time were not as tasty as they are now (don’t forget, they were wild potatoes), they had a bitter taste, but the unpretentious Indians liked them the same.
Over time, they decided to improve the taste properties of wild potatoes…
… they “domesticated” them and even brought out several new varieties. In addition, potatoes began to occupy such an important place in the life of the local population that they were not only eaten, but also were considered something divine – the shamans used potato tubers in their religious rites, and even the unit of time depended on this vegetable – it was the interval required for boiling potatoes (about 1 hour).
Then the Spanish Conquistadors conquered numerous American lands and brought many overseas curiosities to Europe: avocados, tobacco, tomatoes and, of course, potatoes. The adaptation of the first three overseas gastronomic novelties took place relatively quickly (guacamole and salads were prepared with avocados, tobacco generally became super-popular, tomatoes also firmly and quickly took their place on people’s tables). The potatoes didn’t have that immediate success – they tasted like something between a truffle and a turnip to European conquerors. In a word, the new vegetable did not cause a furor. But the Spaniards (and then other Europeans) really liked potato flowers, so they began to decorate flower beds with them, and doctors used the plant for medical purposes.
Italians, Swiss and Flanders liked the taste of potatoes more
They were actively using them in new recipes. The rest of Europe was not so openly disposed to the new vegetable and in some places the authorities even resorted to very cruel methods of instilling a love for potatoes. People resisted as much as they could, being afraid of potatoes like fire: they gave this vegetable some otherworldly evil possibilities (remember, the first potato tubers looked quite creepy and sometimes resembled human figures); many people, not knowing exactly what to eat, started with potato berries and died of poisoning; in France, the nobility did not want to descend to the level of the common population (the latter mainly ate root vegetables), so the rich were not interested in potatoes, and the common people had enough of other vegetables already known to them. But the nobility and even Queen Marie Antoinette decorated their clothes and hair with potato flowers, and planted them for decoration around their homes.
But times and fashions tend to change, and this helped the potato … people started realizing that it was still an ingenious vegetable – inexpensive, satisfying and very versatile. They started cooking new dishes with it, and now, perhaps, there is not a single corner of the world where they would not like potatoes.
The Slavs generally adore potatoes. And prepare so many different dishes with this vegetable that if there were only Slavic potato dishes every day, one could live quietly for a year.
Potato zrazy and Ukrainian food recipes
Skillful Ukrainian housewives also applied themselves to the creation of potato recipes. One day I will tell you about the heavenly taste and aroma of potatoes baked with bacon and onions, world-famous Ukrainian varenyky (pierogi) with potato filling, and tender baby potatoes with sour cream and fresh dill… But today my culinary muse sings to me a song about Ukrainian potato zrazy (mashed potato patties)!
This dish won my heart when I was a child, mashed potato patties (potato zrazy) were often cooked by my mom and granny, and in the school canteen it was one of my favorite delicacies. I don’t know when and who first came up with the idea to use mashed potatoes in such an original way, but the dear inventor of mashed potato patties, you should know: “you have created an ingenious dish”!
Potato zrazy (mashed potato patties or potato cutlets – this dish has many names) may seem like a simple daily dish at first glance, but don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients mislead you. These potato cutlets have a very rich inner world! Here everything depends on the filling: add stewed porcini mushrooms, prepare a delicious sauce or gravy (my husband and sons love these Ukrainian potato cutlets with Ranch sauce) and you can proudly treat guests.
Stuffing ideas for mashed potato patties:
In general, the ideas of fillings in this case are inexhaustible: boiled chopped meat with onions and carrots, liver, minced meat, mushrooms, vegetables (with stewed cabbage it turns out such yummy!). Among the modern options – ham with cheese, or Feta with garlic and dill.
In our family, potato zrazy with canned peas puree are the most popular, I generally like green peas in all dishes, and they add a special tenderness to this Ukrainian recipe.
Ingredients for Ukrainian potato zrazy:
- potatoes (or cups leftover mashed potatoes)
- an egg
- potato starch
- salt, pepper
- flour (if necessary add some more so that the dough gathers into a ball and almost doesn’t stick to your hands – the amount depends on the type of potatoes)
- canned peas
- an onion
- oil for frying
How to make mashed potato patties:
Boil the potatoes (whole and not peeled, don’t chop them), when they are ready peel them and mash to make a puree
While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the filling: fry the chopped onion in oil
Add the canned peas (drained), salt, pepper and blend everything with a blender
For the dough, mix the mashed potatoes, flour, salt, pepper, egg and starch
Knead the potato dough (add some more flour if it is too sticky)
Tear off small pieces of dough, roll out each piece into a flat cake (or a flat disk)
Place a tablespoon of filling into the center of the flat cake
Pinch the edges together to seal and give it the shape of a ” boat”
Fry potato zrazy in hot oil on both sides
Bon appetit or “smachnoho” as they say in Ukraine!
Ukrainian recipe for mashed potato patties (Potato zrazy)
- 18 oz (500g) potatoes (or 3 cups leftover mashed potatoes)
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp potato starch
- salt, pepper
- 2 cups flour (if necessary add some more so that the dough gathers into a ball and almost doesn’t stick to your hands – the amount depends on the type of potatoes)
- 10 oz (300g) canned peas
- 1 onion
- oil for frying
- Boil the potatoes (whole and not peeled, don’t chop them), when they are ready peel them and mash to make a puree
- While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the filling: fry the chopped onion in oil
- Add the peas, salt, pepper and blend everything with a blender
- For the dough, mix the mashed potatoes, flour, salt, pepper, egg and starch
- Knead the potato dough (add some more flour if it is too sticky)
- Tear off small pieces of dough, roll out each piece into a flat cake (or a flat disk)
- Place a tablespoon of filling into the center of the flat cake
- Pinch the edges together to seal and give it the shape of a ” boat”
- Fry the mashed potato pancakes (Ukrainian zrazy) in hot oil on both sides