I know what you're thinking: Polish food sounds pretty heavy for a dinner party! I would normally agree with you, but this traditional Polish dish is actually perfect for a casual get-together. It's easy-to-eat, delicious finger food. It's also easy to adapt to a variety of palates.

I'm talking about zapiekanka (pronounced zeppy-uh-KAHNK-uh), a toasted open-faced sandwich made on a baguette. Here's all you need to know to try this trend at your next party.

Traditional zapiekanka. Photo by Outstanding Views

Zapiekanka originated in Poland the 70's as a fast, cheap lunch for workers. The standard offering was a warm baguette half topped with butter, mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup. Interest in the staple fell when the Berlin Wall did, but it's now regained popularity with nightclub goers with late night stick-to-your-ribs cravings.

Update the Tradition

While some people might be sticklers for tradition, I'm not enthusiastic about ketchup on my hot sandwiches. Keeping the basic idea of zapiekanka, you can create some fun, delicious, and inexpensive nibbles for your next party!

Photo by Ed Moore

Get a couple of baguettes, and decide your toppings for each half. Previous iterations I've made include:

  • barbecue chicken with red onion and cheddar cheese,
  • Greek chicken with tomato, olives and feta cheese,
  • ...and the immensely popular French ham with Gruyere, cornichons and Dijon mustard.

Pick recipes that require only 2-3 toppings for each baguette; too many toppings makes for a big, messy bite. Don't forget the butter, either! A thin layer on the cut side of the bread before you add your toppings helps create a rich flavor.

Once you've decided your toppings, you're practically done with party planning. These are designed to be assembled and broiled quickly (just long enough for the cheese to melt). Once cooked, slice up each zapieakanka for the perfect finger food.

Make it Your Own

Need some inspiration? Try a zapiekanka take on these recipes; just top your baguette with their starring ingredients.

Photo by Ashleyjw
Photo by KevinBerry7406
Photo by Molly
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine