Spring Cuisine in Croatia
Spring is one of the best seasons for Dalmatian cooking.
The food here is naturally and traditionally simple and light. It’s honest, healthy, delicious, and doesn’t need many ingredients.
It is said that “good cooking starts with the trip to the market.” This is very true! The foundation for success in Croatian cooking is finding the best ingredients. This means high quality meat or fish and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
We shop small here, unlike some places in which it is common to buy enough frozen or processed food to last a month. This means that we may visit the green market (PAZAR) in Trogir on an almost daily basis.
The market is open year round, but in the spring the offerings change from the winter harvest of citrus fruits like mandarin, pomegranate, and root vegetables, and of course, “blitva,” (chard) to an abundance spring fruits and vegetables:
- Young lettuce, which comes in many varieties here.
- Wild Asparagus
- Strawberries (jagoda)
- Wine (grape) leaves
- Cabbage (a staple in this region)
Meat and fish are also plentiful in the spring.
Some may prefer the taste of lamb, which is very popular in Croatia, and a spring favorite. (see spring lamb with peas recipe on our recipe page)
Fish is more plentiful in springtime in Dalmatia. In fact, spring is the best time to enjoy fish here! You can cook it under the bell in or a peka, which is delicious, but you can also easily prepare it in your own kitchen. If the weather is still cool, fish stew is very popular. It’s warming, but not as heavy as some of the traditional meat dishes. For those observing lent, fish stew is the perfect dish.
In the summer, the vast majority of fish goes to restaurants, where you will pay dearly for it. Many varieties of fish also move to colder (deeper waters) in the summer, which means that fisherman need to spend more time in deeper waters finding fish.
For vegetarians, you are still in luck! Although greens are plentiful, you won’t be limited to just salads. Many recipes, such as Sarma and stuffed wine or grape leaves, can be prepared without meat. At PaPe Bed and Breakfast in Trogir,, I prepare dishes for vegan guests all season.. no problem!
Dalmatian and Mediterranean cuisine easily adapts to the principles of many other healing traditions, such as Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
For example, in Chinese medicine, spring is a time to “lighten up” and “detoxify” the body. Nature provides us with plenty of young green vegetables, which we tend to naturally include in our cooking. After a long winter of eating heavier, more “grounding” foods like potatoes and meat-based dishes, many crave the transition into eating lighter foods.
Flavors are also important in these traditions. In TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) the SOUR and BITTER flavors are important in the spring and can help the body overcome “dampness and heaviness.” If you have ever experienced a Dalmatian winter, you will understand how much we can be affected by the environment we live in, and it’s natural for us to also introduce more sour and bitter flavors into our cooking in the spring:
- Wine leaves (grape leaves)
- Wild asparagus
- Young greens
- Rosemary and other pungent herb (A wide variety of vinegars that can be found at the outdoor markets)
In Croatia, spring is also the time for celebrations such as Easter, which is a BIG deal Dalmatia and the rest of Croatia, and of course weddings, in which families gather to cook and eat a LOT of food!
Although many tourists arrive in the summer, cooking is not the central theme during this season. Summer holidays in Dalmatia are more about leisurely walks to the beach, meeting for coffee, and minimal cooking. Restaurants are plentiful but often crowded and expensive.
Spring is the perfect time to celebrate food here in Trogir.
Come and join us! This spring, our theme is Renewal. Our focus is on spring vegetables from our farm, fresh fish, lighter fare, and of course our famous olive oils. Of course, we’ll find the perfect wines to go with it all!
Are you into clean, Paleo eating? Not a problem! Vegetarian? Gluten free? Got you covered.
Book your culinary immersion in Croatia with us and you will have an experience you can take with you long after you return home.
Can’t join us yet? Try a few of these recipes in your own kitchen.