Polish open-faced sandwiches (also known as French-bread pizzas) are popular street food in the bigger cities of Poland.
They're known as zapiekanki (plural) or zapiekanka (zah-peeyeh-KAHN-kah), which is singular. The word zapiekanka comes from zapiekac, which means "to bake," and is the Polish culinary term for a casserole.
Most zapiekanki sandwiches start with French bread, sautéed mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup, but there are Hawaiian-style zapiekanki with pineapple, Greek-style with olives and feta cheese, Italian style and many more.
What makes the open-faced sandwich authentic is a thick drizzle of Polish ketchup across the top, no matter what cuisine the zapiekanka is trying to emulate.
Of course, the beverage of choice with a zapiekanka is Polish piwo (beer)!
- 1 long loaf French bread, cut in half and then cut in half horizontally to yield 4 pieces
- Thinly sliced ham or lunchmeat of choice (optional)
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Raw or cooked vegetables of choice (optional)
- Mayonnaise (optional)
- Grated melting cheese of choice
- Chopped chives (optional)
- If the bread is very long, cut it into 3 pieces and halve each horizontally, otherwise, cut it into 2 pieces.
- Layer meat, sautéed mushrooms and cheese on each slice of bread and toast in a hot oven until the bread is crispy and the cheese has melted. Drizzle with ketchup and serve hot.
Note: Although the traditional zapiekanka consists of mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup, newer versions include ham, salami, vegetables, fried onions or chives, spinach instead of mushrooms, and Highlander's smoked oscypek cheese instead of the melting cheese.
The variations are limitless.
More Eastern European Sandwich Recipes
In Poland, a sandwich is known as a zapiekanka or kanapaka, in Hungarian, it's szendvics, Bulgarians say sandvich, while Croatians, Serbians, Czechs, Slovaks and Slovenes call it a sendvič. Lithuanians say sumuštinis, Romanians say sandviş, and Russians and Ukrainians say buterbrod.
Grilled Smoked Salmon Sandwich Recipe: Make a smoked sandwich on hearty bread, dip it in egg, then in sesame seeds and cook it in shortening in a nonstick pan. It's a little like a Monte Cristo sandwich except those are made with ham and cheese. This is a tasty variation with an Eastern European twist.
Oscypek Grilled Cheese with Strawberry Jam Sandwich Recipe: This sandwich is made with Polish oscypek, a smoked goat cheese from Southern Poland.