I have thoroughly embraced the art of snacking. I admit it. I think I could spend the rest of my life just grazing all day instead of eating larger meals. It is more fun, more variety, and more filling. Don’t get me wrong, I still like eating larger meals, full courses……the works. But being able to try a little of everything is much more appealing. That is why the idea of a Romanian peasant platter was so intriguing to me.
A Romanian peasant platter, or “platou țărănesc,” (translated as “rustic platter”) is a collection of foods, mixed meat and vegetables, that can be formed into any combination to form a humble, yet delicious feast. Usually consisting of smoked meats, cheeses, mustard, fresh greens or veggies, and many other options. I couldn’t really find an exact definition or a description of “traditional” inclusions, which just meant that I had to be creative and also just add whatever I wanted!
I decided to take inspiration from another Romanian tradition called pork feast, or “pomana porcului,” which is a thank you dinner prepared for all those friends and family who helped in the processing of food obtained from the butchering of a pig. So, with this in mind, I started with bacon and sausage.
I cooked the bacon and then browned the smoked sausage in the bacon grease, since the meat is supposed to be cooked in it’s own fat for a pork feast.
I also wanted to include artichokes. I’m not sure if artichokes are traditionally found in Romanian food, but I am now living very close to the artichoke capital of the country so I thought it would be a waste to NOT include them.
I made them the same way I did when I had Greek week, that is to trim the sharp edges off the leaves, stuff a few cloves of garlic into the center, drizzle with a little olive oil, and then wrap them in foil. I roasted them for a very long time, and unfortunately, I don’t think it was long enough. The leaves were still very tough and I if I do it again, I think I’ll just stick to good ol’ fashioned steamed artichokes. It is a foolproof method and they are so delicious. But, I digress.
I also made meatballs. These were beef, not pork, but I’m hoping the Romanians won’t mind. I made them very simply with just some garlic, onions, a little salt and pepper and just a touch of breadcrumbs. If your meatballs are too dry and aren’t forming properly you can always add a little mustard or ketchup to help bind them. On the other hand, if they get too sticky, just add more breadcrumbs!
I then hard boiled a few eggs and assembled my platter, making sure to add some feta cheese, smoked cheese, fresh greens, tomatoes, and red onions. I also put out a little dish of horseradish and another of mustard so that we could have dips.
There may not have been that much cooking involved, but it certainly was delicious and very Romanian.
Now, in all honesty, I also attempted to make sweet bread, which is a dough stuffed with feta cheese and then fried. These did not exactly go as planned so I am choosing to exclude pictures. Let’s just say I got a little lazy and baking is not my strong suit. The dough wasn’t the right consistency because I ran out of flour and mixed in a different type. Not one of my better ideas. It was lumpy and then on top of that, I made them too thick and they were very dense, very doughy and not that tasty (or sweet). I guess I was worried about the feta poking through the dough? On the upside, the next morning I warmed them slightly in the toaster oven and ate them like scones with strawberry jam, so it wasn’t a complete waste.
Here’s to a Romanian feast of meat and cheese! Do we really need anything else?