Zapiekanka: Toasted Baguette [Polish Street Food]

PL: Zapiekanka z Serem i Pieczarkami

Zapiekanka (pronounced: zah-pier-kahn-kah) – a slightly forgotten fast-food, reminiscent of the last breaths of Communism and early days of the transformation.

Today its legend gets reinvented, thanks to a new wave of a passionate food-lovers.

Polish fast food stand / kiosk serving zapiekanka with the Palace of Culture and Science in the background. Illustrated by Kasia Kronenberger
Illustration: Kasia Kronenberger

I was only a child when zapiekanka’s popularity was at its peak.

Yet I fondly remember a 7 or 8 year old-me, sitting on the stairs at the Youth Centre in PKiN, waiting for my art class to start.

You would find me munching on a crispy baguette, cut lengthwise, topped with sautéed mushrooms and melted cheese. It was drained heavily in a low-quality, overly sweet ketchup and guess what…I loved every bite of it.

Illustrated recipe for Polish Zapiekanka fast food: a baked baguette with mushrooms and cheese. Illustrated by Kasia Kronenberger
Illustration: Kasia Kronenberger

Even if that Youth Centre’s buffet still exists, it probably offers something much more suitable for the modern taste buds.

With the end of the Communist era came the insatiable hunger for anything foreign ( ideally western) and Polish delicacies were often frowned upon.

Most of the Warsaw downtown – once packed with independent zapiekanka kiosks – is now filled with global players, such as Starbucks and McD’s. It’s getting hard to tell the city apart from any other European capital.

Rebirth of the artisan zapiekanka

It’s no wonder that zapiekanka hasn’t survived in its old form. Made in dubious sanitary conditions, with cheap ingredients and microwaved to death…. With that nasty “beep” sound every minute, kudos to those who made them and didn’t go bananas.

Polish fast food: 2 servings of zapiekanka: toasted baguette with fried mushrooms and melted cheese. Topped with ketchup. On a white background. Horizontal image.

Anne Applebaum called zapiekanka “a pizzalike substance, a poor relative of its distant Italian cousin”.  While that was true 30 years ago – luckily, it’s no longer a fair comparison.

Fun fact: In Polish, we use the word “zapiekanka” for any casserole-style dish. It comes from the verb “zapiekać” , which means “to bake”.

Polish fast food: 2 servings of zapiekanka: toasted baguette with fried mushrooms and melted cheese. Glass of soda in the background. On a white background.

Baked open-faced sandwiches are slowly crawling back onto the Polish food scene. This comeback is driven by the wave of the Communist nostalgia – more so in terms of design and lifestyle of that era, rather than the ideology itself.

Good old zapiekanka got revamped and improved. With a trend towards local (almost artisan) foods, bar owners are opting for high quality ingredients and varied flavour combinations.

Crusty, freshly-baked bread, covered with an array of toppings, under a divine coat of melted cheese… Oven baked, without any microwave in sight… who would be able to resist?

Polish fast food: 2 servings of zapiekanka: toasted baguette with fried mushrooms and melted cheese. Topped with ketchup. On a white background.
Polish Zapiekanka: Toasted Baguette with Sautéed Mushrooms & Cheese

Polish Zapiekanka: Toasted Baguette with Sautéed Mushrooms & Cheese

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Also known as: "zapieksa". Why go out, when you can try some old-school Polish fast-food at home? This zapiekanka will be ready in no time!

Ingredients

For zapiekanka

  • 1 baguette
  • 10 oz (300g) button mushrooms
  • 1 small onion
  • 5 oz (150g) mild cheese (e.g. gouda)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil (for frying)

Topping

  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Cut the baguette lengthwise. Scoop it out a bit (you can reuse this for pulpety).
  3. Wash the mushrooms, dry them and chop into small pieces.
  4. Peel the onion and chop into small pieces.
  5. Add oil to the frying pan. Sautée the chopped onion and mushrooms for 7-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Grate the cheese.
  7. Fill the baguettes with fried onion and mushrooms. Cover with grated cheese.
  8. Bake until golden (approx.8-10 minutes).
  9. Serve with ketchup.

Notes

You can add as many toppings as you like. I enjoy it with ham and some black olives.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 859 Total Fat: 35g Saturated Fat: 15g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 16g Cholesterol: 70mg Sodium: 1596mg Carbohydrates: 101g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 16g Protein: 37g
Polish fast food: 2 servings of zapiekanka: toasted baguette with fried mushrooms and melted cheese. Topped with ketchup. On a white background.

Save this “Polish Zapiekanka with Mushrooms and Cheese” recipe to your “POLISH SNACKS” Pinterest board!
And let’s be friends on Pinterest!

Did this post help you?

Kasia Kronenberger Polish food blogger
Cześć, I’m Kasia.

Here at Polonist I’m spreading the love for the wonderful Polish food. >> Learn more

Never miss a recipe. Subscribe now & start cooking!

Thanks for your feedback!

I’m always looking to improve the articles here to help you become an even better Polish cook :)

While you’re here, why not follow the Polonist on YouTube?

How can I improve it?

How can I improve it?