I had to go to Romania with work the last week. When I think of Eastern European cuisine I (used to) think of rich meaty stews and hunks of flesh served with cabbage. However, I was pleased to learn that wasn’t necessarily the case in Bucharest.
Remus and the Wolf
A fact I didn’t know – around 87% of the Romanian population are Orthodox Christians. What is the relevance of this? There are times of the year where Orthodox Christians undergo a strict fasting period which basically means they follow a vegan diet! (More information here). So although I found that most restaurants didn’t understand the term “vegan”, they knew exactly what I meant if I mentioned fasting! And in some cases there was even an extra menu dedicated to this.
Not everyone in Romania is oblivious to veganism however. Whilst I was there I visited one vegetarian restaurant called Barca which had a very extensive menu, entirely vegan apart from the occasional guest-appearance from honey. I had falafel with a chopped parsley salad and it was very tasty and light. The restaurant itself was also very clean and fresh-faced. I wish more UK vegan joints were like this!
Falafel and parsley salad
I also ordered takeout from a place called Biofresh. I had a salad consisting of courgette, tofu, dill, wheat germ and garlic with a dressing made from tofu, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and spices. It sounds like such a simple meal but it was so delicious I was inspired to make my own variation when I got home. It was just a shame that nearly all of the desserts from these places contained honey (miere).
A non-veggie place I visited was a restaurant called “Caru’ cu Bere” (or “The Beer Wagon” in English). This place is one of the oldest beer houses in Bucharest and although it was a bit of a carnivore’s paradise, it was amazing! There were traditional dancers performing at regular intervals and it was heaving with people, even on a Wednesday night. I shared a loaf of bread with an aubergine dip and a traditional dip made from a variety of vegetables for starter, followed by a traditional vegetable stew with polenta for my main course. Both were hearty and delicious! I didn’t really have room for a pudding but then I got passed the “fasting menu” and discovered that they had egg and dairy free pancakes!!! Nom!
Dancing Romanian stylee!
Should my Romanian hosts happen to stumble across this post, I would like to thank them wholeheartedly for looking after me so well and going to such lengths to ensure that I was happy and well fed! ♥
Ever since I have eaten solid food, I have professed to hating courgette. Only a few days ago I was moaning on Facebook about how much I hate that unimaginative restaurants always serve courgette as the vegan option.
In fact, I was away with the hubby (celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary!) when I nearly cried in a restaurant when I found out that the vegan option for the main course was a courgette salad.
Nasty, yukky, slimy stuff!
So… imagine my surprise when I “forced” myself to eat said salad, only to find that I really really enjoyed it?! So much so that I actually went and bought a courgette when I got home and made the below delightful salad with a super delish dressing. Recipe as follows!
Chilli and lime dressing:
Juice of one lime.
2 x tbsp. Cider vinegar
1 x tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
1 x tsp Sesame oil
¼ x Red chilli (thinly sliced)
1 x tsp Chopped chives
1 x tsp Coarsely ground black pepper
1 x tsp Ground cumin
¼ x tsp Cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients together in a jug and leave to one side.
Courgette and chickpea salad:
Ingredients (makes two large portions):
Mixed leaves (I used rocket, watercress, spinach and red chard)
½ x Onion (thinly sliced)
2 x Garlic cloves (de-germed and thinly sliced)
¼ x cup Pine nuts
1 x tsp Sesame seeds (I used black)
1 x cup Cooked chickpeas Juice of half a lemon
1 x Medium courgette (cut into ribbons using a peeler)
1 x cup Cooked green lentils
Optional: Nutritional yeast to garnish
Place the courgette ribbons in a bowl and pour over the lemon juice. Set to one side.
In a lightly oiled pan, gently heat the onion, garlic and pine nuts. You want the pine nuts to turn a golden brown without the garlic burning.
Add the black sesame seeds and chickpeas and continue cooking until the chickpeas are heated through.
Add the courgette and juice to the pan and toss until the contents of the pan is well mixed.
Add the lentils and heat until they are heated through.
On a plate, arrange a bed of the mixed leaves. In the centre, place half of the chickpea-courgette mixture. Drizzle on as much of the dressing as preferred.
If using, sprinkle some nutritional yeast over the top.
I still can’t believe how after all these years I have managed to change my opinion of these little green wonders! Definitely a great recipe for anyone who is as unsure about courgette as I am.