I have been to Croatia a number of times, most recently to Pula in the north and prior to that Dubrovnik on three occasions. It is a beautiful country with stunning coastlines, crystal blue water and impressive architecture. The walled city of Dubrovnik really is a sight to behold with windy narrow steps, Stradun (it’s limestone-paved main thoroughfare) and glimpses of brilliant blue through the gaps in the city walls. It became a Unesco world heritage site in 1979. Pula’s amphitheatre is the 6th largest amphitheatre in the world and the only one that has all three rows completely preserved.
The Republic of Croatia covers 21,851 sq miles, consisting of 21,782 sq miles of land and 49 sq miles of water. There are over a thousand islands and islets varying in size, 48 of which are permanently inhabited. The largest islands are Cres and Krk. According to Lonely Planet, the top things to see in Croatia are Plitvice Lakes National Park, Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Dubrovnik’s city walls and Cres Island. Alfred Hitchcock once said “Zadar has the most beautiful sunset in the world, more beautiful than the one in Key West, Florida”. Croatia is ranked as the 18th most popular tourist destination in the world.
Croatian cuisine can be divided into regional cuisines (Istria, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Lika, Gorski Kotar, Zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Slavonija) which all have their specific cooking traditions. Popular recipes I came across were Pasticada (slow cooked beef stew), Krpice Sa Sunkom (Ham and pasta casserole), Cevapcici (meat kebabs), Punjene Paprika (stuffed peppers), Govedina s lukom (beef in onion sauce) and Fuzi (Istrian pasta commonly served with truffles). I opted to make Grah s kobasicama (Bean and sausage stew) which, for what is essentially a simple store cupboard meal, was really tasty.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3 tins beans (cannellini, kidney or borlotti)
500g tinned hot dog sausages
5 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsps tomato puree
1 knorr chicken stock pot/cube
3 tbsp vegetable oil
fresh parsley, chopped
Chop the sausages into small bite-size pieces and place in boiling water – turn temperature down and cook in water on a low heat.
Put the oil into a pan over a medium heat, add the flour and stir to create a roux
Add the crushed garlic cloves, tomato puree and stock pot or cube and mix well
Keep adding a ladleful of water one at a time from the sausage cooking liquid and keep stirring to remove lumps until you have a nice unctuous consistency
Add the sausages and bay leaves to the sauce and let cook for 20 minutes on medium heat, add more water if it is too thick
Add the beans and cook for a further 2 – 3 minutes, again add more water if necessary
Add salt and pepper to taste and cook for another minute
Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with warm french bread