Monday, January 17, 2011


Clockwise from left: Macedonian Sarma, Tavche Gravche, and Zelnik
This week we were fortunate to have my Mom, Dad and Grandpa join us for Country #46, Macedonia.  It's always fun to have my Mom helping me in the kitchen.
I chose to make 3 different dishes, Sarma (cabbage rolls), Zelnik, (spinach pie), and Tavche Gravche (beans).
It was interesting to see which dish each person liked the best.  The beans were the first to disappear, and the rest quickly followed.

Tavche Gravche:

I knew I would be pressed for time around dinner so I made the beans ahead of time.  I used canned cannellini beans instead of using dried beans.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 cans white beans
3/4 cup onion chopped
1/2 shallot chopped                  
1/3 cup red pepper chopped    
1 clove garlic chopped            
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
1 T flour
1 cup water

Saute onion, red pepper, and shallot in pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute another minute or two.  Add salt, pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes and mix well.  After 2-3 minutes add flour and cook about 2 minutes.  Then add drained beans and stir thoroughly.  Pour water into the pan and stir until a sauce like consistency.  Bring to boil.  If mixture gets too dry add more water. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the chopped parsley.  Transfer mixture to an oven-proof dish and cook on 350 for about 45 minutes or until bubbly and a nice crust has formed on the top.


About 15 large cabbage leaves*
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/4 red pepper
1 lb ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup Kalamata olives chopped
1/2 cup fresh parley chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint chopped

*Many of the recipes I found called for pickled cabbage leaves which I could not find. Instead I boiled the leaves in a pot of water, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup of vinegar.  Boil them about 5 minutes until soft.  Cook rice according to package directions.  Saute onion and red pepper in pan with olive oil.  Add garlic and ground beef.  Cook until beef is no longer pink.  Add paprika, salt, and pepper and olives.  Mix in cooked rice, parsley, and mint.  Take 1 cabbage leaf at a time and fill with 2-3 Tablespoons of meat mixture.  Fold leaf in around mix and roll.  Lay in a baking dish lined with some extra cabbage leaves to prevent sticking.  Repeat with rest of leaves and filling.  Pour boiling water over rolls and bake in oven.  (I think this is where I made a mistake.  The cabbage was still slightly tough.  Next time I would cover the dish with foil so the steam could soften the cabbage more.) Bake on 350 until tender.


I discovered that Zelnik can be prepared using a variety of ingredients.  I chose to make a spinach leek feta Zelnik and it was delicious!

1 small leek chopped (white parts only)
3 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
8 oz feta cheese
1 clove garlic
1/2  roasted red pepper
1/2 pkg phyllo dough
 2 sticks butter

Mix leek, spinach, feta, garlic and red pepper in a bowl.  Prepare phyllo layers: Brush one sheet at a time with melted butter and layer them on top of one another.  After layering about 10 sheets, spread filling over dough and roll.  Lay around the edge of a round cake pan.  Continue this process until all spinach mixture is used.  Brush the tops of the phyllo rolls with more melted butter.  Bake in 350 degree oven until crust is nicely browned about 20 minutes.  


If you want to find out more about Macedonia and it's cuisine check out these sites:

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