I was recently invited to share a Croatian recipe as part of the World On A Plate challenge, which is being run by the travel company Expedia. I’m always up for a challenge and I love international food (sweeping statement of the day…), so I set about looking for a vegetarian Croatian recipe to share.
I went to Croatia years ago (back in 2008, in fact), but since we were taking a cruise along the coast and only stopping in small fishing towns, there was a major focus on seafood, which isn’t much good for a vegetarian. However I knew that Croatia must have plenty of wonderful vegetarian dishes too, and when I stumbled across soparnik, I knew it was perfect!
Soparnik is known as a Croatian version of pizza, but really it’s more like a pie, with dough on the top and bottom. It’s traditionally filled with swiss chard, but I used kale instead, since it’s one of my favourite vegetables at the moment (I sure do love a good food trend…). So if ‘soparnik’ sounds too exotic for you, just think of this as kale pie, and you’ll feel right at home.
The soparnik was really easy to make. For the dough, I used the same recipe as I used for my cheese and onion stuffed flatbreads, which I shared back in September. I raved about how easy the dough was at the time, and it proved itself once again – no holes poked by fingers, no sticking to the worktop, no nothing, just a really user-friendly dough! Fill it with a mixture of kale, onions, garlic and fresh parsley, and you get a wonderfully comforting, yet relatively healthy and relatively authentic Croatian kale pie!
In case you needed any more reassurance about just how forgiving this recipe is, here’s what my kale pie looked like before it went in the oven:
i.e. a bit of a mess.
In fact it doesn’t even look too special when it comes out of the oven either…
…but, chop it up into the traditional diamond shape, and it suddenly goes from ‘strange slab of dough’ to ‘beautifully rustic pie’.
I drizzled mine with a little extra virgin olive oil to add an extra bit of Mediterranean flair.
I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for soparnik if I’m ever in Croatia again, and I’d also 100% recommend visiting the country! Absolutely stunning coastline, interesting cities, and spectacular scenery (and lovely kale pie!).
Croatian soparnik (kale pie)
For the dough:
- 300 g plain flour ~2 cups, plus more for dusting
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- cup ~150ml water ~2/3
For the filling:
- Large handful kale or similar green vegetable
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil optional, to serve
- Add the plain flour, olive oil and salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Gradually adding the water, knead the mixture with clean hands until it comes together into a dough. The dough should be moist but not overly sticky, so you may not need all of the water (or you may need a dash more!).
- Continue to knead for a few more minutes, until the dough is fairly elastic. Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a tea towel. Leave to rest for 1 hour.
- While the dough is resting, prepare the filling. Remove any tough stems from the kale, and chop the leaves. Add the finely diced onion, garlic and parsley, along with a tbsp of olive oil and a touch more salt and pepper. Mix well, and set aside.
- When the dough has rested, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Divide the mixture in two, and roll the first section out to your desired size (the thinner the better). My baking tray measured around 12 x 9 inches, so I kept this in mind when rolling.
- Transfer the rolled-out dough to a sheet of baking paper, and add the kale filling, making sure it's spread out evenly to the edges of the dough.
- Roll out the second piece of dough in the same way, and place it over the kale filling.
- Using a rolling pin, press the two layers of dough together over the filling, pressing out as much air as possible and tightly sealing the edges. Make a few small holes in the top of the pie with a fork.
- Bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Cut into diamonds with a pizza cutter, and serve warm, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil if desired.