Plant-based dishes popular during Lent, the fasting period before Easter.
Romania are in Lent, a 7-week period during which people traditionally east eat
only plant-based dishes, with the exception of certain days when fish is also
allowed. Popular products at this time are pickled cabbage, prunes, rice,
potatoes and leafy greens such as garden patience, orache, nettles and leeks.
They can all be used to make some delicious meals.
One very common
fasting dish is soup made with pickled cabbage. To make this soup you need the
following ingredients: some 2 kg of pickled cabbage, two onions, 2 big carrots
and tomato paste. This dish is very easy to prepare, but it takes quite a long
time to cook, a few hours, even, because the veins of the cabbage leaves need
to cook well. So, the first thing you need to do is rinse the pickled cabbage
leaves in cold water, slice them, not too finely, and put in a pan to boil on a
low heat for 2 to 3 hours. After that, slice the onions and the carrots and add
to the pan. Optionally, you can also add some finely chopped parsley root, and
then pour in the tomato juice and one or two spoonfuls of tomato paste. Leave
the soup to cook for another hour and then serve when it has cooled down a bit.
Rice is another
Lent staple. It can be used as a filling for vegetarian sarmale, a popular Romanian dish in which pickled cabbage leaves or
pickled vine leaves are filled with minced meat. Rice is also very commonly
used during Lent in combination with other vegetables to make pilaf, a local version of risotto. To
make pilaf, you need two cups of
rice, two or three onions, a carrot, one or two fresh tomatoes or a tin of cubed
tomatoes, some mushrooms, parsley and oil. Put some oil in a pan and add the
sliced onion. When the onion turns golden, add the chopped mushrooms, the
sliced carrot and a splash of water if necessary. Rinse the rice and add to the
pan together with the cubed tomatoes and cook for about half an hour. When the
dish is cooked, add salt to taste and the chopped parsley. Poftă bună!