It’s been raining for a couple of days in Bucharest and the countryside. Large drops. Drizzle. All types of rain and even snow. Sunny days. Cloudy days. And rain again. Boring. There are different solutions to get rid of boredom. I’ll stick to one of the most enjoyable ways and I’ll make room to a guilty pleasure: food. Romanian people love food. We cook and eat a lot. So, give Romanian food a bite!

The Romanians are notorious for the food quantities piled on a plate. Forget about your diets if you visit our country. The real food in rural Romania is spicy, hot, complex and most importantly, organic. Delicious! During the meal and after, Romanians talk a lot over a glass, or more of wine. 

In the Romanian Orthodox tradition, March is linked to the Great Lent. The Easter Lent starts on March18. A tough period follows. People need to fast for six weeks, meaning that during the following 40 days, Romanians do not eat any product coming from an animal. That’s why, for those who fast, I’ve selected a simple vegan recipe to publish for you.

Vegan leeks stew

750 g spinach 1 – 2 medium stalks leeks
1 onion
1 cup of rice
1 glass of wine
4 tomatoes
4 cloves of onions
4 tbl sunflower oil
4 tbl tomato paste
salt and pepper

Boil 2 l of water or vegetables soup. Heat oil in a large cooking pan over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook the chopped onion and garlic until translucent. Add 1tbs. of hot water and the leeks (cut in halves length way and then sliced), stirring until tender, but firm. Simmer for a minute. Add the rice and increase heat to medium-high.

When the rice becomes translucent, add the wine, stir until the alcohol evaporates, add the chopped fresh peeled tomatoes, salt, pepper and sauté together. Add the tomato paste, stir and after about 30 seconds start adding little quantities of boiling soup/ water until the rice is fully cooked. Add the spinach and keep cooking for 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the pot all the time because the leeks get easily browned. If you are a beginner, you can introduce the pot in a preheated oven for the last 3-4 minutes. It generally takes about 10 to 15 minutes to cook the leeks. 

Don’t forget to carefully wash the leeks under running tap and drain before you start cooking them. Both the white parts and the green leaves are used. The dark green parts take longer to tenderize, so add these slices first.

For those who accept meat in their diet, here’s another recipe:

Pork tongue, leeks, and black olives stew

3-4 pork tongues
1 bay leaf
one large onion
olive oil
5 stalks of leeks
1 cup of tomato juice
2 garlic cloves
a handful of black olives salt & pepper

It takes about 2 hours to boil the peeled tongues after you have cut them in 1 cm pieces. Don’t hesitate. It’s worth the effort! While the tongue is happily boiling, start prepping the rest of the dish. Chop the leeks, but not too thin. Heat some olive oil in a big pan, add the 2 crushed garlic cloves, the bay leaf and the leek rings and keep cooking until golden.

Season with salt and pepper. Add the tongue pieces together with the tomato juice in a pirex dish, mix well, cover and leave in the oven. After 25 – 30 minutes add the black olives, uncover and cook for another 10 -15 minutes until the tongue is very, very tender. It’s hard work for the cook, but a delight for the palate!

Hmm, yummy!

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