Slovaks do pasta?
In all my experiences with Slovak and Central European cuisine, I’ve barely ever seen pasta come to the plate, as it’s been more known to the Mediterranean region. Dumplings have been more the favored starch, with halušky or spätzle being prime examples. However, in my most recent trip to Slovakia (visiting in-laws), I was actually shown a bona fide pasta dish originating in Zuzana’s native homeland.
We were visiting my mother-in-law, where she was going to show me how to cook venison (I’ll share that one another time). Before we started on the deer, Zuzana and I wanted to tidy up the kitchen, where I encountered some kind of leftovers. At first glance it seemed like the remains of a mushy pasta with potatoes, given a slight red color.
The dish was called Granadír ("grahn-ah-deer"). Its origins come from the small villages as what was probably an easy dinner for those with little money for meat. Definitely one in the tradition of “peasant food” that made up the now infamous “Mediterranean Diet”, despite that it’s not the region.
You have to imagine granadír as the best of many worlds–pasta merged with baked potatoes and a little flare from the paprika. It works nicely as a main dish or a side dish, and is so easy to make. Here’s how...
- 14-16 oz of pasta (shells, penne, or linguine broken up into small pieces)
- 4-6 potatoes
- 3-4 small yellow onions, chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt (or Vegeta) and pepper to taste
- Place the potatoes in a large stockpot with enough water to cover them.
- Boil the potatoes in the water until they soften.
- Drain the water and set the potatoes aside to cool.
- As the potatoes cool, fill the pot up with water, add some salt, and cook the pasta until al dente.
- Drain pasta and set aside.
- If the potatoes are cooled, peel and cut them into cubes.
- Heat up 2-3 tbsp of oil in the stockpot on medium-high heat.
- Add in the onion and sauté until soft.
- Mix the potatoes and pasta into the onions, stirring to break down the potatoes.
- Season the mixture with paprika, salt, and pepper; adding more oil if it's too dry.
You only need to boil the potatoes to the point that a fork can easily sink in. Theres no need to boil them into mush.
When mixing the final ingredients together, the seasoning and texture is really up to your sense of taste. Simply add in some salt, pepper, and paprika before tasting. If your mixture seems too dry, then add in some oil and stir some more. You want a slightly moist result, but not a greasy/oily dish. Be sure to taste as you go.
This is a recipe just begging to be variated. You could skip the paprika and really doll this dish up as you would baked potatoes. Sour cream, bacon, cheese, chives...the sky is the limit.
Some fresh or dried parsley will add color to the plating.