Sunday, September 16, 2012

Learning to make Soparnik in Split, Croatia

Who invented pizza? When John and I were in Split, Croatia in October 2009 we were told it was invented in Split. We stayed at the Le Meridien Lav, (Le Méridien Lav, Split Grljevacka 2A · Podstrana ∙ Split 21312 ∙ Croatia · Phone: (385)(21) 500500, We planned to take a cooking class. Scheduled cooking experiences are no longer offered but guests who are interested can contact the hotel to arrange a class. The cost will be based on the length of the class and the recipes chosen.

However, it was low season so no classes were offered but Chef Tomislav arranged to have one of his helpers, Snježana Matijaš, show us how to make a local favorite, soparnik. It resembles a two-crust pizza filled with Swiss chard. Chef Tomislav explained that pizza originated in Split, Croatia, “Pizza was making something out of nothing.” It seems that when Roman Emperor Diocletian became ill he abdicated in AD 305 and retired to Split. Even though Diocletian’s palace was built in the 4th century, parts of it are still in use making it one of the best-preserved Roman sites. The UNESCO site is the living pulsating heart of the city. With Diocletian came many Romans who enjoyed soparnik took the recipe back to Rome where it, over the years, turned into pizza as we know it today.

1 lb Swiss chard (can substitute other greens)
¼ (one-fourth) head of small cabbage
3 tbsp olive oil
Dash sea salt
Dash Sugar
12 oz cold water
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb all-purpose flour
4 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil

Remove stems from Swiss chard and julienne. Refrigerate it overnight to dry it. It must be really dry for the pie. The next day mix Swiss chard, cabbage, oil, sea salt, and add a bit of sugar. To make the dough, add water, salt and olive oil in the flour and knead until well mixed. Let it set for a 45 minutes. Split the dough in half. Lightly flour the rolling pin and dough. Roll the dough to a size of a baking tin; cover the dough with the Swiss chard. Roll the second half of the dough and cover Swiss chard. Pinch the edges. Bake at 425 for 20 min or until the crust is light brown. Mix the oil and garlic and brush the mixture on the top. Cut the pie into diamond shapes and serve it. Makes a great appetizer or vegetarian dish.

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