Looking for a quick and delicious meal? Try making these Polish open-faced sandwiches, also known as zapiekanki. Similar to French bread pizza, they are a popular treat in Poland and perfect for a casual lunch or dinner.
Zapiekanki first hit the streets in Poland in the 1970s during Edward Gierek’s leadership when the Communist authorities allowed some private enterprise in the catering industry. This led to the rise of small family-owned food service establishments that served Zapiekanki along with other simple dishes.
Fast forward to today, you can find Zapiekanki all over Poland, with a wide variety of toppings and sauces. Some people even call it the “Polish pizza”.
Want to have a go baking one yourself?
Recipe At a Glance
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’re getting into with this recipe:
- Done in a snap. You can pull this off in 30 minutes or less. The prep is easy peasy and you can do it while your oven is heating up. The last bit of that time is just waiting for your zapiekanki to cook up.
- No culinary degree needed. Grate, mix, dump the mix onto bread – that’s it. No fancy techniques, and it’s super hard to mess up.
- Perfect for leftover crusty bread. Got half a baguette, ciabatta, or other crusty bread hanging around? In 30-ish minutes, it’ll be transformed into a belly-filling feast. Talk about a win-win.
If you’re making Polish Open-Faced Sandwich for the first time, read the ingredients notes, step-by-step instructions, and tips. If you’re a veteran, feel free to jump to the recipe card.
Ingredients Notes and Substitutes
- Baguette. Any other long roll of crusty bread, like ciabatta or anything you’d use as a base for French bread pizza works as well.
- Low-moisture mozzarella. You can substitute it with cheese sticks, or maybe mix in some Gouda, cheddar, or even a bit of parmesan. Make sure the mozzarella is the base cheese for the cheese mix so that the topping isn’t overly salty.
- Button mushrooms.
- Italian seasoning. Both homemade and store-bought Italian mix work. If you don’t have a pre-made bag, this recipe should be helpful.
- Olive oil.
Of course, the amount of cheese and mushrooms you need depends on the length and width of your bread of choice. When in doubt, make more, as you can easily use up leftovers over regular bread.
- Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (or 180°C).
- Next, prepare your mushrooms. Clean them with a damp paper towel or wash and peel them, whichever you prefer.
- Once your mushrooms are clean, grate them using the largest holes on your box grater. You can slice and sautee the mushrooms instead if you like, but simply grating them is good enough and saves 5 to 10 minutes.
- Repeat the grating process with your low-moisture mozzarella or any other cheese you’re using.
- Combine the grated mushrooms and mozzarella in a bowl, then add your Italian seasoning. Stir everything together until it’s well mixed.
- Grab your baguette and slice it in half lengthwise.
- With a brush, apply olive oil to the inside of each baguette half. Make sure you evenly distribute around 2 tablespoons of olive oil on each side. Warning: the bread soaks in oil like crazy, and it’s easy to use double or triple the amount of oil. That’s why I recommend using a brush.
- Once your oven is preheated, place the bread halves on the wire rack (so that the bottoms bake, too) in the oven. Bake them for about 3-5 minutes or until the exterior becomes crunchy. Check the crunchiness by lightly pressing the inside of the bread with your fingers after around 4 minutes (be careful not to burn yourself!).
- Remove your crunchy baguette halves from the oven and spread the mushroom and cheese mixture evenly over each half. Top with more cheese if you like.
- Place the baguettes back into the oven for another 8-10 minutes. Keep them in there until the cheese has melted nicely and everything is heated through.
- Once your open-faced sandwiches are hot and ready, take them out of the oven.
- Finish by topping your sandwiches with a generous drizzle of ketchup.
- Serve immediately and enjoy your delicious Polish Open-Faced Sandwich!
Here are some tips for making a Polish Open-Faced Sandwich:
- Play around with the mushrooms and cheese. Not a big button mushrooms fan? No sweat! You can use less of them or swap ’em for a different mushroom type. If you’re all about that cheese, go ahead and add a bit more. The key here is finding your own sweet spot of mushroom and cheese goodness.
- Cheese medley, anyone? So you’ve got some mozzarella but not quite enough? No problem. Add in some of that cheddar or gouda you’ve got lying around. Any cheese that melts well can join the party. Not only does this ensure you’ve got enough cheese, but it also adds a fun mix of flavors to your sandwich.
- Don’t waste those tasty leftovers. Got some of that cheesy, mushroomy mix left? Pop it onto a slice of regular bread. No need for the olive oil brush this time. Just bake it in a cool oven set to 350°F (or 180°C) for 10-15 mins until the cheese is all melty and delicious.
The recipe above is a bare-bones version that you can easily customize. Here are some ideas:
- Add more protein. Got some ham, prosciutto, salami, or any deli meat lying around? Slice ’em, cube ’em, and toss ’em into the mushroom and cheese mix. Works great with canned tuna, too.
- Top with pickles. Slice some pickles and pop ’em on top after cooking. It adds a fresh twist, and it’s a fan favorite.
- Add tomato sauce. Got leftover tomato sauce, like from last night’s spaghetti? Use it as a base layer under the mushroom and cheese mix. Bonus: You won’t need as much ketchup to top the sandwich.
Got any other favorite add-ons? Leave them in the comment section below!
How to Serve
To serve the Polish Open-Faced Sandwich, you have a variety of options to choose from. Here are some suggestions:
- Traditional Style: Serve the sandwich as it is, with all the ingredients beautifully arranged on a slice of bread. This classic presentation allows the vibrant colors and textures to shine through.
- Garnish Galore: Sprinkle some fresh herbs, such as parsley or dill, over the sandwich. This adds a pop of green and enhances the overall visual appeal.
- Sauce Sensation: Adding ketchup is a game-changer. Drizzle a generous amount of ketchup over the sandwich to create a beautiful contrast and give it that Italian-like feel. Don’t be shy with the ketchup; it adds a tangy and slightly sweet element that complements the other flavors perfectly.
- Sidekicks: If you want to turn it into a more complete meal, Polish Open-Faced Sandwich pairs well with various side dishes. Consider serving it with a side of pickles, either dill or sweet, to add a refreshing and tangy element. A small salad, such as this Polish cucumber salad or a tomato salad, can also be a delightful accompaniment.
Polish Open-Faced Sandwich is quite versatile, so feel free to experiment and make it your own.
If by any chance you’ve got leftover sandwiches (I mean, who can resist eating the whole thing?), here’s how you can store them:
- Cool it down. Let the sandwich chill to room temperature before storing. It’ll keep the texture nice and prevent any sweaty sandwich situation.
- Tuck it in tight. Once it’s cool, place the sandwich in an airtight container. Make sure it’s sealed up nice and snug to keep the air out and avoid it drying out.
- Fridge is your friend. Pop the sandwich into the fridge. The cool temps will keep it fresh and prevent any funky stuff from happening.
- Shelf life. If stored properly, your sandwich will stay tasty for three to four days in the fridge.
And if you’ve got more topping than you need, store it the same way in the fridge. You can use it on regular bread later, as I explained in the tips section. It also stays good for about 3 to 4 days.
How to Reheat
To reheat a Polish Open-Faced Sandwich, follow these simple steps:
So, you’ve got a leftover sandwich and you’re wondering how to heat it up just right? Check this out:
- Start it slow. Pop your open-faced sandwich onto a baking sheet or oven-safe dish and set your oven to around 320-350°F (or 160-180°C). The important thing to remember: place the sandwich in the oven before it’s preheated. We want to gently warm up your sandwich, not hit it with a heatwave.
- Keep an eye on it. Watch out so it doesn’t overcook or burn. You’re looking for it to be heated through and ready to munch, which usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. Ovens can vary, so you might need to tweak the timing a bit based on your experience with your own oven.
- Dig in! Once the sandwich is hot, it’s ready to enjoy! Serve it as is or with your favorite side. And remember, these sandwiches are best savored warm, so don’t wait around – dive right in after reheating.
Polish Open-Faced Sandwich (Zapiekanka)
- 1/2 baguette 10-12 inch or 25-30 cm long
- 9 oz low-moisture mozzarella (~ 255g)
- 7 oz button mushrooms (~200g)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ketchup for topping
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Clean your mushrooms with a damp paper towel or wash and peel them.
- Grate the mushrooms using the largest holes on your box grater. Then grate your low-moisture mozzarella or other cheese using the same holes.
- In a bowl, combine the grated mushrooms and mozzarella, add Italian seasoning and mix well.
- Slice your baguette in half lengthwise.
- Apply 2 tbsp of olive oil to the inside of each baguette half using a brush.
- Place the bread halves on a wire rack in the preheated oven. Bake for 3-5 minutes until crunchy.
- Remove the baguettes from the oven, spread the mushroom and cheese mixture evenly over each half. Add more cheese if desired.
- Bake the baguettes again for 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and everything is heated.
- Remove the hot sandwiches from the oven. Top the sandwiches with a drizzle of ketchup and serve immediately.