There are quite a lot of vegetarian and vegan dishes in Romanian cuisine, especially due to the fact that Lent and fasting days cover almost 180 days of the year. The food consists of dishes made with beans, aubergines, potatoes, leeks, quince, rice, cod’s roe and sunflower seed halva. There are varied stuffed vegetables such as peppers, courgettes and onions, or stuffed cabbage, vine and acacia leaves. The stuffing could be rice, millet, pearl barley with tomatoes, and sometimes sultanas and walnuts are thrown in.
Many dishes are made with dumplings filled with vegetables and, for dessert, with plum jam. Rosemary, thyme and savory add an extra layer of flavour, and so does sauerkraut and the use of smoked fruit in main dishes. It is all about layering flavours.
Sour and smoky flavours are very important, like in this recipe where tomato sauce with its light acidity is mixed with chargrilled sweet peppers to create a very tasty base for the cauliflower.
2 Romano peppers
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 large cauliflower – broken into pieces or florets
200ml vegetable stock
1 fresh bell pepper – sliced
Start by grilling the peppers in a griddle pan over high heat. Turn them on all sides until the skin is almost burnt. Allow to cool a little and peel the skin, removing the stalks and seeds. In a food processor, blitz together the grilled peppers and chopped tomatoes.
In a large pan, add a splash of oil and on medium heat, fry the cauliflower for 8 minutes, turning the pieces on all sides. Add the sauce and the stock, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, but not mushy. Just before serving, add the sliced pepper.
Serve the dish with a dollop of sour cream and a few pickled chillies.
For more recipes like this and also recipes for breads and cakes, please buy ‘Carpathia – food from the heart of Romania’ here. Thank you very much for your support.