This is a traditional recipe of Croatian Plešivica region, otherwise known for its magnificent wines. Plešivica is a green, hilly region some 30km southwest from its capital Zagreb. Savoury pies have been made throughout Croatia for centuries, influenced by all kind of foreign cuisine types that found their way onto Croatian territory. They say there is nothing like pies made with homegrown ingredients, but no matter where you get them from, you can prepare a wonderful meal that can serve as breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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This pie is locally called Copanjek, deriving its name from the Croatian word coprati, which basically means to practice magic. Our grandmothers and mothers used to make it from whatever seasonal ingredients there would be in their garden. The point was to make a delicious pie from whatever you have on display in your fridge, garden, or available at that moment (hence the name copanjek). The recipe calls for lard (pork fat) in the dough, which makes it very gentle, with that melt-in-your-mouth effect. I used spinach for the filling, but you can use whatever greenery you have on hand.

For the dough:

  • 700 g all-purpose flour
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 4 tbsp lard
  • 300 ml sour cream

For the filling:

  • 250 g spinach
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 spring onions or 1 red onion
  • A handful of fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 500 g cottage cheese
  • A little bit of milk
  • 1-2 tbsp sour cream

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  1. Make the dough: combine all ingredients and knead until soft dough forms. Let in warm place while you make the filling.
  2. For the filling, melt lard on medium heat and add chopped spinach, chopped onions and chooped parsley leaves. Add spices and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. In the end, add a splash of milk. Let cool, then add cheese and one egg.
  3. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  4. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Roll each one out onto a floured surface. Line a baking tray (dimensions 35 x 40 cm) with parchment paper. Transfer one part of the rolled out dough onto parchment paper. Spread the filling evenly over it and top with the other part of the rolled out dough. Poke the dough through with a fork, in order to let the steam out while baking. Brush the top with sour cream.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, cut into squares and serve.