Slovene cuisine, dishes, recipes, history
Slovenian cuisine has been shaped by Slovenia’s diverse landscape, climate, history and neighboring cultures. In 2016, leading Slovenian ethnologists divided the country into 23 gastronomic regions.
Dandelion is popular as a salad ingredient in Slovenia, having been harvested in the fields for centuries. Even today, dandelion and potato salad are highly prized. Since the dandelion harvest season lasts a very short time in early spring, people specifically choose the time and go for them as a family.
In the Middle Ages, people ate acorns and other forest fruits, especially in times of famine. Chestnuts were highly prized and served as the basis for many famous dishes.
Mushrooms have always been popular, Slovenians love to both pick and eat them. Berries, nuts and honey are also popular.
Meat and fish
Pork is the most popular meat in Slovenia, poultry is also eaten.
Other meats are common, depending on the region. For example, lamb and goat meat are eaten in Bela Krajna and Slovene Primorje. In the Lower Krajina and Inner Krajina, sonja and quail are roasted. Sonja, for example, was used for soups, risotto, and goulash. It was prized only for its meat, but also for its large amount of wool. Lard was also useful for medicinal purposes. It was used to heal bruises, broken limbs, stomach upsets and rheumatism.
Before the crayfish were exterminated in the 1880s, the broadleaf river crayfish was a good source of income in these areas.
Nanoški sir (Nanoški cheese) – hard, with small pea-sized holes, slightly sweet and spicy, made from cow’s milk.
Tolminc cheese (Sir Tolminc) – from raw cow’s milk, sweet and spicy to the taste.
Mohant sir – spicy savory aged soft cheese from skimmed cow’s milk. It is also called Bohinj cheese, because it is produced in Bohinj area.
The consumption of spices in Slovene cuisine is very moderate.
In Slovenia there are two own kinds of oil, which the Slovene people are proud of:
- Olive oil (ekstra deviško oljčno olje Slovenske Istre), a slightly bitter and spicy oil with a strong fruity flavor, produced in Slovenian Istria.
- Pumpkin seed oil – produced in Prekmurje and Styria.
Belokranjska pogača (Belokranjska pogača) is a traditional round white bread from Bela Krajna. Before baking it is cut into small square pieces so that it can be broken off by hand.
Belokranjska povitica (Belokranjska povitica) is the Slovenian national pie. The very name “povitica” comes from the verb poviti, which means “roll” and explains the cooking procedure. A simple dough of flour, water, salt and vinegar, rolled out in a thin layer, is evenly spread with a filling of cottage cheese, eggs, heavy cream and butter, rolled up into a roll and placed in a spiral in a baking mold.
Buhteljni – sweet buns with filling.
Mlinci – thin dried flatbread, traditional in Croatian, Serbian and Slovenian cuisine. In Slovenia, mlinci and duck or goose are traditionally eaten on St. Martin’s Day.
Pinca (Pinca / sirnica / pinza) is a traditional Slovenian Easter sweet bread with a cross cut with a knife before baking on top. Pinca is made to celebrate the end of Lent because it contains a lot of eggs. Together with the Easter eggs, the pinca becomes the centerpiece of the family Easter breakfast.
Vrtanek is white bread wrapped in a braid of two or three plaits of dough and joined in a circle.
Soups are a relatively recent invention in Slovenian cuisine, but now there are more than a hundred of them. The most common meatless soups were lean and clear.
Beef noodle soup is the most common meat soup, usually served during Sunday lunch.
Aleluja, turnip soup, a typical Slovenian dish, especially common during Lent.
Bakalca – thick meat soup with flour and carrots.
Bobiči – smoked pork with corn, beans and potatoes.
Bograč – goulash of several meats (usually pork, beef and game) with potatoes. Typical for the areas of Prekmurje.
Jota (Jota) – Vipava sour soup made of beans, sauerkraut or turnip sour, potatoes, bacon, ribs. In Slovenian Istria, it is often eaten with polenta.
Mineštra is a Slovenian variation of the Italian minestrone, a thick soup of vegetables and beans.
Šara (Šara) – smoked pork with vegetables (potatoes, turnips or rutabaga, carrots) and herbs (parsley, marjoram).
Prežganka – Slovenian national soup of flour, cumin and beaten eggs. It gets its brown color from frying flour in butter. A traditional dish of the region of Upper Krajna.
Stejerska sour soup (Štajerska kisla juha) – is made from pork shanks and parts of the head, which are boiled with onions, garlic, herbs and vinegar, then potatoes are added. At the end, sour milk and flour are added to make it thick. It was traditionally prepared in Lower Styria for the pig slaughter festival. Later this soup became synonymous with night parties, it was traditionally served at weddings after midnight.
Ričet is a thick soup made of barley boiled with beans, potatoes, carrots, parsley, celery, tomatoes, onions and garlic. It is served with smoked pork. Richet is part of Slovenian, Croatian, Austrian and Bavarian cuisines and has a reputation as a chowder for prisoners.
The main dishes are.
Ajdovi žganci (Ajdovi žganci) is a pudding made of buckwheat flour with cracklings, an old national Slovenian dish. The word žganci comes from the Slovenian verb žgati, meaning “to burn”. Served with meat sauces, sauerkraut, black pudding, various sausages.
Bujta turnip (Bujta repa) – Slovenian national dish of fatty parts of the head, neck and skin of a pig and grated sour turnips with the addition of millet. It is mainly cooked in Prekmurje, the northeastern part of Slovenia. It used to be customary to eat it only when the food stopped steaming. It was believed that the colder it was, the fatter it was. Nowadays less lard is used, so the custom has lost its relevance.
Funšterc / šmorn (Funšterc / šmorn) is an egg omelet, also known as knapovsko sonce, which means “coal sun” or knapovska torta, which means “coal cake”, is a national Slovenian dish. Funšterz comes from the region of Zasavier. The omelet is supposed to be thick and round, but also tender and airy. It is made by mixing white flour with water, eggs and salt. This mixture is then poured into a mold and baked. In the past, it was especially popular with miners and their families because of the eggs, which were considered quite expensive amid the general low standard of living of the population. They used to take funstertz with them to the coal mines and ate it during breaks on special days. Yellow, like the sun, which coal miners could not see while working in the underground. Hence the name.
Frtalja is an egg omelet with various ingredients. It is especially popular during the spring season, when there are many plants and vegetables such as wild asparagus, tomatoes, young garlic sprouts, herbs: fennel, mint and chicory, which are added to the egg. During the year it is cooked with ham, mushrooms, sausages, bacon, white or red wine. The number of ingredients is never precisely defined. It is a Mediterranean Croatian and Slovenian dish.
Kmečka pojedina (Kmečka pojedina) is a Slovenian national complex dish designed for holidays and celebrations. It is gathered around sour turnips or sauerkraut. Smoked pork (such as ham or loin), roast pork (such as ribs), sausages (such as blood sausage) are placed next to it. In addition to these delicacies are put aydove zhanganzi, mashed matevzh beans, salted potatoes. The composition of the dish varies depending on the area and time of year.
Matevž is a mashed bean, a Slovenian national dish, typical for central Slovenia, especially for the Kochevje region. It originated in the 19th century. Originally the lower social classes ate it as a main dish. Prepared from beans and potatoes, it is mostly used as a side dish, usually eaten with sauerkraut or turnips.
Mavželj – national Slovenian pork dish, known mainly in Slovenian Carinthia, but also in the Upper Kranj. It is shaped like a ball, cooked from the soup in which the pig’s head was cooked, and the remains of the meat and brains of the same pig’s head.
Obara (Obara) is a stew that is served as a meal in its own right, made from various kinds of meat and internal organs. It used to accompany various ceremonies as part of the traditional Slovenian cuisine. It was traditionally served with buckwheat pudding Ajdovi žganci, today more often with vegetables. One type of obara is a stew of sonja from the Slovenian Inner Krajina.
Idrijski žlikrofi – small dumplings filled with potatoes, onions and lard. Served with meat or as an individual dish. This recipe dates back to the mid 19th century and is still one of the most popular Slovenian dishes.
Kasha (Kaša) is an indispensable Slovenian dish.
Močnik (Močnik) is a traditional Slovenian porridge. For its preparation, cereals such as buckwheat, corn, wheat, millet, rye or oats are cooked in milk, cream or sour cream.
Salads and appetizers
Kranjska klobasa is a traditional Slovenian semi-smoked pork sausage. Served boiled, usually with sauerkraut. Has won recognition in many countries.
Prleška tünka (Prleška tünka) – meat bread made of pork smoked in lard.
Zgornjesavinjski želodec is an air-dried meat product made of high-quality bacon and pork stuffed in a pork stomach, originating from the Upper Savinja Valley. The name tchotchkes translates to “stomach.”
Šebreljski želodec – smoked meat made of high-quality bacon and pork stuffed in a pork stomach, originally from the Cerkno and Idrija regions.
Karst pršut (Kraški pršut) – uncooked pork ham made in the traditional way on the Karst Plateau in southwestern Slovenia.
Kraški zašink – a cylindrical meat product of smoked pork neck in a casing.
Jetrnice – liverwurst sausage.
Prekmurska gibanica is a multi-layered cake with fillings between layers of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins and cottage cheese. Originally from Prekmurje, it has been given the status of a national dish of Slovenia, which is confirmed by the Protected Geographical Status issued by the European Union in 2010. The unique sweetness shows the diversity of agriculture in this region. For centuries, Prekmurje gibanica has served as a festive and ritual dish in Prekmurje. The exact origin of the recipe is unclear. Early sources suggest that it evolved over the centuries. The oldest surviving document from 1828 describes the preparation of gibanita for a wedding: “The dough is rolled out until thin, sprinkled with grated cabbage, turnips and curd. Ten or 11 such layers are made up in this way and form a conspicuous pie. The name gibanica comes from the expression güba, which in this case refers to the fold.
Štruklji is a traditional Slovenian dish in the form of a roll of dough with various kinds of fillings. It used to be made for special occasions, but is now one of the most characteristic everyday dishes in households throughout Slovenia. The most common fillings are apple, walnut, poppy seed, cottage cheese or tarragon. Strukli can be steamed, boiled, fried or baked. They are also often made with salty fillings and served with meat and sauce.
Potica is a nut roll.
Krhki flancati – A deep-fried dough similar to crouton.
Krofi – doughnuts with a sweet filling, popular in many Eastern European cuisines. In Croatia and Slovenia, consumption of krofi increases significantly during the annual winter celebrations. They are made on New Year’s Day and other holidays such as Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.
Kvasenica is a salty or sweet open cake with cottage cheese and sour cream.
Škofjeloški kruhki (Škofjeloški kruhki) – handmade gingerbread that is traditionally produced in and around the village of Škofja Loka.
Dražgoški kruhki – handmade gingerbread, traditionally produced in the area of the village of Dražgoše and its surroundings. The most characteristic shape is the heart.
Beverages made from milk are very popular in Slovenia: buttermilk (Kislo mleko) and kefir (Pinjenec).
Brinjevec / Brinovec is a strong alcoholic beverage produced in the Karst and Brkini regions of Slovenia. It is re-distilled from ground and fermented juniper berries, and differs from similar juniper beverages. It has a transparent color, contains 40% to 50% alcohol and has a very characteristic tart taste, intended mainly for medicinal purposes.
Tropinovec is a Slovenian variant of brandy made from grape cake, neutral in taste and smell. Usually used as a base for adding different flavors to create new drinks:
- Borovničevec (borovničevec) – with blueberries,
- cherry – with sour cherries,
- walnut bean (orehovec) – with walnuts,
- medica – with herbs or honey.
But tropinovetz is not necessarily a low-grade alcohol. When varieties of grapes are used for its production, it is sold as a separate product.
Češnjevec is a cherry brandy.
Slivovka / Slivovica – plum brandy.
Cviček – Slovenian wine from the Lower Krajina.
Tolkovec – apple cider.
Serving and Etiquette
For St. Martin’s Day, Slovenians usually cook roast goose, duck, turkey or chicken with red cabbage and raspberries as a side dish.
The traditional Sunday lunch includes the following dishes: beef noodle soup, roast potatoes, fried steak and salad.
Prekmurska gibanica – Slovene cuisine
Gibanica (gibanica) is a national puff pastry with various fillings, typical of the cuisines of Eastern Europe. Gibanica is made with both sweet and salty fillings. Prekmurska gibanica (Prekmurska gibanica) is a traditional Slovenian layered pie. It is an invention of Slovene cuisine, as evidenced by the awarding of the Protected Geographical Status by the European Union. Prekmurska gibanica is an ornate pie.
National Cuisine of Slovenia: Tasting and Enjoying!
Slovenia as an independent state appeared on the tourist map relatively recently, and to get acquainted with this country, including its national cuisine, we have to use our own experience.
Of course, by the fact that Slovenia is adjacent to Austria, Hungary and Croatia on one side, and Italy on the other side, has access to the Adriatic Sea, you can already draw some conclusions about the culinary traditions of the country.
So you don’t have to guess, Kidpassage recommends reading about Slovenian cuisine and deciding what to try first, and which dishes to offer your child.
Features of the cuisine
Despite the small territory, Slovenia can boast a huge number of local dishes, and each region has its own preferences.
Here influences of Austrian and Hungarian cuisine in the north and east, Italian – in the west, Croatian – in the south, recognize the traditions of the cuisine of the Balkan peoples, as well as the cuisine of the Mediterranean.
The dishes here are usually rich and nutritious, because cereals and various kinds of meat (pork, lamb, beef, poultry) form the basis of the diet. However, seafood, greens, vegetables and legumes – potatoes, carrots, turnips, sweet peppers, beans, peas, asparagus and artichokes are no less popular with Slovenians.
The most common spices, apart from pepper and bay leaf, are marjoram, sage, oregano, thyme, mint, and cinnamon.
National dishes of Slovenia
What to consider as specialties in the country, where in addition to the regional cuisine there are city and country cuisine, the cuisine of monks, miners, blacksmiths and lumberjacks? Slovene people have their own opinion on what dishes to present the country. So, the cuisine of Slovenia is the most popular.
Kranjska klobasa – a pork sausage awarded the title “a masterpiece of national importance”. Every year there is a festival of Kranjska klobasa in the municipality of Medvode. Traditionally, this dish is served with sauerkraut.
Kraški pršut – dried pork ham. Slovenians believe that the winds of bora and piran salt have a special effect on the meat, giving it a unique taste. Cras prsut matures for 12-16 months and turns ruby red.
Čompe s skuto – halves of jacket boiled potatoes spread with cottage cheese paste. In honor of this ingenuous dish, the town of Bovec holds an annual festival “Čomparska noche”.
Jota is a soup made of sauerkraut or fresh cabbage, potatoes, beans, lard, peppers, and garlic. Each region has its own set of spices for jota, so this soup can be tasted in different cities.
Potica is a roll of yeast dough. It is traditionally filled with nuts and poppy seeds, but each hostess has her own version of the filling. At the fairgrounds you can often find several kilos of potitsa, and some cafes make miniature potitzas.
Prekmurska gibanica is a nine-layer pie with a filling of apples, poppy seeds, cottage cheese with sugar and vanilla, raisins, and nuts, which is usually made on holidays. Similar pies are baked in Serbia and Croatia, but the gibanica from Prekmurje is the most elaborate and rich.
Štruklji are balls or rolls of potato dough with various fillings. Meat and bean shtrukli are served as a separate dish, curd shtrukli are put into soups, shtrukli with apples and nuts are put on the dessert table.
Salads and appetizers
Among the traditional dishes of Slovenia there are not many original salads. Here they love fresh vegetables, lettuce, and potato salad at any time of the year. But here they are especially fond of adding dandelion leaves to food.
- Regratova solata is a salad of young dandelion leaves with eggs and potatoes, dressed with pumpkin or olive oil. Sometimes other young greens are added.
- Kostanjev pire is a mashed potato of baked chestnuts. It is served as an appetizer, as a side dish, or used as a filling.
- Mežerli – liver pâté often served with potato salad.
- Zaseka – ground lard with garlic and pepper.
Belokranjska pogača – bread with a golden crust and a sprinkling of cumin – is a good match for the pâté. Before baking, the dough is cut into squares, so that after baking it can be easily broken into individual pieces.
And if your child prefers patties to all the complicated dishes, order him a burek, a flaky meat pie whose recipe is widely used in the Balkans.
So, it’s time for a snack. Skipping the pizza pages on the menu (although it is very popular in Slovenia), let’s move on to soups. There is an incredible amount of them: any broth seasoned with grits, dumplings, noodles, sausages, cheese, turns into a great first course.
Mineštra is a thick soup with meat broth, seasoned with pureed cauliflower and potatoes and Parmesan cheese. This flavorful soup is very liked even by those children who refuse to eat soup when they see carrots or cabbage in it.
Gobova juha is mushroom soup. It is not only tasty on its own, but the “plate” where it is poured is also tasty: this soup is often served in a loaf of bread, from which the crumb is taken out. On the menu such tasty stuff can be listed as jurčkova juha v kruhovi skodelici.
Vipavska jota – soup similar to cabbage soup with smoked meat.
Meat and side dishes
The second dishes in Slovene cuisine are a combination of meat and dumplings of various kinds. The influence of neighboring countries on Slovene cuisine is noticeable here more than anywhere else. Judge for yourself: popular meat dishes include Hungarian goulash and paprikash, cevapcici sausages, popular in the Balkans. Do you want something special? You are welcome.
- Tunka is slices of pork fried in lard. This dish is very greasy and requires a suitable side dish.
- Bujta repa – a dish of pork head and neck, seasoned with turnips and millet. Not less fatty than tuna.
And among the side dishes, there are very interesting (and this is even without taking into account the streukle).
- Idrijski žlikrofi – a dish similar to dumplings or ravioli, filled with cheese or potatoes.
- Žganci – cooked balls of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat or corn porridge may appear under the same name. If you order Ajdovi žganci, you will be served buckwheat flour mash with cracklings.
- Njoki are potato dumplings reminiscent of Italian gnocchi.
Of course, the side dishes include potatoes – krompir: kuhani – boiled, pražen – fried, ocvrt – baked.
- Blitva s krompirjem – boiled potatoes with mangold, healthy and tasty seasonal dish.
- Kaša – yes, that’s exactly what porridge is. Buckwheat, corn, millet, with mushrooms, cracklings or dried fruits – there are many variations.
- Frtalja – scrambled eggs with different additives, for example asparagus and prsut.
Fish and seafood
Seafood dishes are common in seaside regions, especially calamari. In coastal restaurants wonderful dishes are prepared from cod, trout, eel, pilaf with shrimps, mussels and crabs, calamari with cheese and ham. You are also offered fish soup – ribji brodet.
And here is a seemingly unexpected item on the menu: Ocvrti žabji kraki – fried frog legs. This exquisite French dish is very popular in Slovenia.
Among the drinks popular in Slovenia are tea, coffee and hot chocolate. However, tea here means herbal and fruit infusions, while our usual black tea is called Russian tea. Let us also mention a few special drinks.
- Malinovec – drink on the basis of raspberry syrup.
- Tolkovec – whipped apple juice (note that the word “Tolkovec” may refer to alcoholic apple cider).
- Šabesa – a refreshing drink with elderflower syrup.
- Pinjenec – buttermilk left over after butter has been beaten and is used as a soft drink.
- Kislo mleko is a fermented milk drink made from alpine milk.
The desserts of Slovenia so captivate the guests of the country that they are taken away as a tasty present. It is not only about gibanica and potica cakes.
Torta Ljubljana is a chocolate cake made of the softest sponge cake smeared with chestnut cream. You cannot take such a cake away with you, but cookies Poljub iz Ljubljane (“A Kiss from Ljubljana”) would be a nice souvenir.
Bezgovo cvrtje – elderberry pancakes. Elderflower florets are dipped in liquid batter, fried and served with powdered sugar and cinnamon. The same is done with acacia inflorescences.
Zavitek is a close relative of the Austrian strudel. Apple strudel with ice cream would make a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee.
Dražgoški kruhki – huge handmade gingerbread with intricate decoration, made in the village of Dražgoše.
Škofjeloški kruhki – printed gingerbread from the village of Škofje.
Kremna rezina, or kremšnita, is one of the most popular dishes in Slovenia and is served at the Bled resort. And don’t let the “rubbery” name scare you: the delicate soufflé and custard between two sheets of puff pastry are extraordinarily delicious.
But even regular sweets, such as palachinki pancakes served with sweet toppings, will delight the kids. They will also like the candies made of dried figs in chocolate.
And of course, on a hot day you should order sladoled – ice cream with different fillings. Slovenians love ice cream with chestnuts.
Tips for kids
There are not many dishes in national cuisine of Slovenia which should not be given to children – we should probably exclude pork roasted in bacon and dishes with smoked meat.
But how many healthy and tasty dishes are on the children’s table! Salad with young dandelion leaves, mashed chestnuts, potatoes with cheese chompeh, a hearty soup minestra, dumplings zhilkrofi, gnocchi, omelette frites – all this can be offered to pre-schoolers. Gruel, boiled or stewed potatoes serve as a side dish to the meat dishes.
Sour milk drinks, such as sour moloko, will help children get used to the new dietary regime.
Where to Try
If you are looking for restaurants serving Slovenian cuisine, you should feel free to venture beyond the spa zone.
Whether you go to restavracija, a top restaurant, gostilna or gostisce, a medium-sized place with a menu based on the national cuisine, or okhersevalnisa, a small eatery, the service is always good.
Kavarna and slascicarna are cafes, where you can try Slovenian desserts that deserve a special attention. And farm milk and dairy products are best of all bought at market stalls and near larger stores.
As you sit down at the table, wish each other, “Dober tek!” – “Bon appetit!”
And have you noticed that the names of many Slovenian dishes have a geographical reference? This is why you do not just want to try kras Prsut, Idrija žlikrofi or belokranjska gaga, but also see with your own eyes the limestone rocks of Kras, the world’s largest mercury mines of Idrija and birch groves of Bela Krajina.
The Kidpassage collection will help you put together a family itinerary around Slovenia – enjoy a trip to the capital, skiing or relaxing at the thermal spas.