Summer is officially here! And you know what that means – it’s time for a vacation, those sunbathing and swimming days, hot summer nights, exploring, wandering, and meeting new cultures. But to truly have an amazing adventure, you must enjoy it with all your senses – including your palate and taste buds!
Meeting new countries, cultures, and traditions is surely amazing, especially if you have the opportunity to indulge in new and interesting flavors and aromas of classic, traditional, and delicious dishes and recipes.
Now, you probably heard of Croatia – a small central European and Mediterranean country with breathtaking views, untouched nature, and more than 1000 islands. But besides natural beauty which surely takes everyone’s breath away, foodwise, Croatian specialties are delicious! Throughout history, Croatia has been influenced by many countries, civilizations, and cultures – from ancient, Illyrian, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish cuisines to the Italian, Hungarian, Austrian, and French. All those influences present the basics of Croatian cuisine which through years developed into a beautiful tradition with amazingly diverse dishes and recipes.
Since the summer is here and the Croatian coast and islands are quite popular during these months, I’m bringing you must-try (and so delicious) Croatian summer specialties! And of course – prepare yourself for true Mediterranean flavors and aromas!
Simple, elegant, and delicious, rožata presents an excellent summer dessert. This traditional Dalmatian pudding beautifully combines vanilla flavoring, rose liqueur, and orange peel with elegant caramel dressing. Rožata brings a fantastic sweetness with a touch of bitter orange peel and sugary caramel, and it is served cold – perfect for hot summer days, isn’t it?
Istria is known for its indigenous pasta – especially for the pasta called fuži. This is traditional and homemade pasta that resembles small spindles and flouts. Fuži can be combined with any type of meat and seafood, as well as with interesting, rich-in-flavors sauces. Since fuži has a small hole in the middle, it allows the sauce to intertwine with its dough nuances, and thanks to that, fuži comes with amazingly tasty flavors and aromas.
If you love chard, this dish will seduce you within a few seconds! Soparnik presents a pie with a filling made of chard, onion, and parsley. Once it is baked, soparnik is coated with a mixture made of olive oil and garlic. All the ingredients create interesting and above all, delicious nuances, flavors, and aromas! This is a perfect, simple, and light dish great for those summer months!
If you’re looking for a small and sweet snack throughout the day, kroštule may be your perfect match. Kroštule are knot-shaped sweets covered with powdered sugar. They are crunchy and tasty, and they certainly beautifully combine sweet nuances with rum and brandy into just amazing final flavors. Oh, and fun fact about kroštule – you’ll never try the same recipe twice because almost every city and island have its own unique recipes for these sweets!
Bread With Olive Oil
The symbol of the Mediterranean, the olive oil, is a true delicacy in Croatia. Due to that, it is used in many recipes, especially in the combination with fish and seafood. However, olive oil can be served a bit simpler too – with homemade bread. The bread is prepared with care, so it combines crispy outside and beautifully soft inside and with just a few drops of olive oil, it presents a truly tasty summer specialty!
For a cold cut in Istria, go for ombolo. Ombolo presents a part of a pork chop that is rubbed with paper, salt, and bay leaf. After that, the meat is dried for up to 3 weeks. This is a true gastronomy delicacy, and it is served with olive oil, eggs, and bread. It is also accompanied by white wine, especially Istarska Malvazija which gives a nice touch to the ombolo’s interesting flavors and nuances.
On the Croatian coast and islands, probably every restaurant prepares risotto – in many combinations and with many ingredients. In Croatia, you can try white and black risotto. The white risotto is usually combined with prawns, shrimps, and other seafood, and it is cooked with a touch of white wine. The black risotto is made with cuttlefish which gives the rice a unique black coloring. Both variations are creamy and delicious with beautiful textures!
Salad is always a great idea – especially if it combines the beauties of the sea depths (and octopus is certainly the queen of the sea!). Octopus salad is a delicious dish that beautifully harmonizes the flavors and aromas of octopus, potatoes, parsley, garlic, and olive oil. For the final touches, the chef adds a few drops of lemon. Now, all the ingredients are combined into an amazing and fresh salad perfect for those hot summer days and nights!
Shrimps (especially those from Kvarner) are considered to be the most delicious Adriatic seafood and the best delicacy of the Mediterranean. There are various recipes on how to prepare and indulge in shrimps – they can be served raw, prepared on buzara, with pasta, and in risotto. Whichever combination you try, you’re going to love it – shrimps truly bring the best flavors of the sea depths!
The island of Vis has a quite delicious trademark dish called Komiža’s bread. This recipe presents a tasty homemade dough with a filling made of salted anchovies, tomato sauce, oregano, olives, and parsley. All the ingredients create a true ecstasy of the flavors and the amazing harmony of the best Mediterranean aromas. Besides Komiža’s bread, Vis has one more trademark dish – viška pogača or Vis’s bread. The recipe is similar to the one of Komiža but viška pogača is made without tomato sauce.
Mussels On Buzara
Okay, I’m going to admit right away – this is my absolute favorite dish, and I can eat it all year long! Mussels are shells that contain a small amount of meat and once they are prepared on buzara (cooked in water and white wine with parsley, garlic, and olive oil), their flavors are simply to die for – delicious and beautifully combined. And the toč (Croatian word for a sauce characteristic for the Mediterranean regions) is amazing with homemade bread! Oh, and combine mussels on buzara with red wine. Perfect!
This cured meat product is protected by a geographical indication. Dalmatian prosciutto is a prestigious piece of meat made of fresh pork leg in a process called smoke drying. Prosciutto offers really unique flavors and specific aromas which amazingly combine with homemade bread, local cheese, and red wine.
Arancini & Limuncini
This simple, yet delicious Dalmatian dessert will blow you away! Arancini and limuncini present orange and lemon peel cut into strips, covered in sugar, and then dried for a couple of days. After that, their bitter peel is in harmony with the sweet nuances of the sugar. These sweets are crispy and tasty – and perfect for snacking throughout the entire day!
On the Croatian coast and islands, grilled fish is simply a must. You can try tuna, sea bream, groupers, sardines, mackerel, saithe, and more – almost every fish is suitable to be grilled and to offer tasty and crispy skin in the combination with soft and amazingly juicy meat. Of course, the fish beautifully harmonizes with olive oil, garlic, a few drops of lemon, and rosemary. Imagine how delicious all those nuances are! To die for!
Mandulat or bademovac is a true sweet delicacy. It is made with 2 wafers and in-between there is a mixture made of cooked honey and almonds. Mandulat is crispy and it offers all the sweet nuances you need in order to satisfy your palate and taste buds. Mandulat is perfect with your afternoon coffee or tea, or just as a simple snack while you’re relaxing on the beach!
Okay, I’m definitely craving now all of these Mediterranean flavors, aromas, and nuances! Croatian coast and islands certainly have interesting and delicious dishes. Most of them are, of course, based on simple, every day, and easily accessible ingredients such as fish and other seafood, as well as vegetables and homemade dough. But what’s making all these dishes stand out is their amazing recipes and interpretations which lead them to amazing flavors, beautiful aromas, and seductive nuances.
Of course, there are a lot more dishes that will definitely bring ecstasy to your palate and taste buds, but those recipes are for you to discover! Enjoy these Croatian summer specialties!
This article is written by Ana, editor and writer at Kitchen Toast.
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