Bit On The Side

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Bulgarian Broccoli

At the end of January Jimmy and I spent a lovely weekend in Sofia, Bulgaria. We had wanted to visit friends in Ireland over New Years but the costs were incredibly inflated so we decided we would go away a month later instead. In choosing where to go we looked for a flight + hotel deal, decided on Sofia and went to a town where we could live like kings and queens.

The view of Vitosha mountain from our hotel room. The hotel where we even treated ourselves to massages!

We had a fantastic time exploring the modern city that is Sofia, it is incredibly easy to get around on their metro system. We were spoilt as everyone we met was happy to practise their English with us and humour my attempts at Bulgarian – I was saying Blagodarya for thank you, which is correct but the locals prefer Merci! We knew to look out for some “secret” underground bars that were lit by candlelight and did a free walking tour to learn more about Bulgaria’s history and culture. We did a little bit of shopping, knowing beforehand that we’d like to buy a Martenitsa (small red & white dolls made from yarn worn to celebrate the start of spring) and that the pottery was meant to be quite nice.

I was happy to come home with a lovely serving bowl for a steal! 

But it was the food and drinks that were the real bargains.

We were drinking large beers for less than 2 pounds!
The food we ate consisted of freshly made omelette, lots of grilled meats, salads (quite similar to my “Lynne salad” actually), cheesy dips, warming soups (needed after the freezing walking tour), cheap wine and very generous sizes. On our second, and last night, we ate at a restaurant between the National Palace of Culture (NDK metro) and the central shopping district (Serdika metro). Here I had a broccoli side dish that I knew I would want to recreate when I got home. And thankfully I had my new dish to serve it in.

You can see the broccoli in the background there. I hadn’t yet tasted it’s goodness.

BULGARIAN BROCCOLI

The dish on the menu was listed as “sautéed broccoli with 200g butter” but I’m not sure if the weight listed is referring to the butter or all the yummy flavours – garlic, dill, peppers and celery.  I am quite proud that I have recreated the same flavours as I had in the restaurant and one of my latest finds is celery salt. Celery is often used as part of the base of a dish (along with onions and garlic) but I never seem to be able to use up all the celery that I buy, with celery salt I now achieve the same flavour without wasting any fresh food. I have made this a couple of times since we returned and tried both adding raw broccoli straight to the pan and par-boiling it first. I prefer the straight to the pan method as I like my broccoli fresh and crunchy (it can be eaten raw so why not throw it straight in?). Great as a side dish to any meat, your weekly roast or as a meal for one.

My recreation, in my new dish

Serves 2

Ingredients

60g butter
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 small or 1/2 an onion, diced
1/2 a red pepper, chopped up as small as possible
2 garlic cloves
1t celery salt
dill
salt & pepper

Method

  1. Melt butter in a pan.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broccoli and sprinkle over the celery salt. Give it a stir and saute for about 5 minutes.
  4. Throw the red pepper over the top, season and give it a mix.
  5. Remove to a dish and serve with dill sprinkled over the top.

 

Spices used in traditional Bulgarian cooking that I also brought home with me and haven’t yet opened – but will use to recreate something else soon!

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