With Lithuanian vegetables – a perfect combination

Although many people think of Lithuanians as a nation of potatoes, food blogger and cookbook author Renata Nikajien is convinced that Lithuanian cuisine is full of ingredients perfect for pasta.

Try unexpected recipes, the taste of which will be the envy of even the most famous Italian chefs.

“Traditionally, potatoes, not pasta, provided satiety and energy in Lithuanian cuisine, because high-quality pasta was not made here before.

Today, store shelves also feature quality Lithuanian hard-grain pasta, which is made using bronze molds so it doesn’t boil or stick together when cooked.

Such pasta and many Lithuanian seasonal vegetables are a perfect combination that provides a perfect balance of flavors and allows you to use all the goodness of the garden,” says R. Ničajienė.

The blogger invites you to combine pasta not only with ordinary tomatoes, but also with spinach, carrots, beets, broccoli, peas, wild mushrooms and berries.

  1. Beets, which not only add flavor but also a beautiful pink color, go perfectly with pasta. It is best to use very fresh, small summer beets in pasta dishes, cube them and caramelize them in a frying pan.
  2. Lithuanian forest mushrooms and pasta – an ideal pair! Porcini mushrooms and boletus mushrooms – light, non-astringent mushrooms are best combined. They can be fried directly on the pan, no need to boil them first. While cooking, the mushrooms release their juice, which when diluted with a few tablespoons of water from a pot of boiling pasta, makes a great light sauce.
  3. Peas are an ingredient whose light sweetness is the perfect addition to a fresh and summery pasta dish. They should be added to the cooked pasta a few minutes before the end of cooking.
  4. Berries and pasta can also be a great pairing. Traditionally, we used to make noodles with blueberries or cherries. A quick version of this much-loved dish is high-quality pasta with briefly cooked fruit and a melted butter sauce.
  5. Countless herbs grow in Lithuania, which perfectly create the Lithuanian version of pesto sauce. Regular basil can be replaced with dill, parsley, nettles or carrot leaves. Pine nuts can be replaced with pumpkin seeds or hazelnuts.

However, not all pasta is the same. If you’re going to choose relatively neutral-tasting garden vegetables when making Lithuanian pasta, it’s important to choose a paste that absorbs the sauce well.

“The most important criterion on which the success of your dish depends is the surface of the pasta. If it is uneven, the sauce will stick perfectly, and the relatively neutral flavor of the vegetables will be completely “absorbed” into the pasta. Macaroni made using bronze molds that heat the surface of the macaroni is characterized by this feature,” says the quality manager of “Malsenas”, which uses this technology. Vita Petraviciuti says.

According to experts, it is also very important not to overcook the pasta. If you choose a good quality durum wheat pasta, it will hold its shape and help create the desired al dente texture – still a little hard on the inside, but soft enough on the outside.

Summer and quick recipes from fresh vegetables

“I invite you to discover three different and summery pasta recipes that you can prepare using Lithuanian hard-grain pasta.

You will be surprised how perfectly the flavors of macaroni and ingredients found in our forests and gardens go together,” says R. Ničajienė.

Pasta with squirrels and young carrots

For 2 people you will need:

  • 200 grams of durum spaghetti pasta,
  • 200 grams of fresh squirrels,
  • 100g sliced ​​smoked bacon,
  • 200 grams of young carrots,
  • several onion leaves,
  • 1 clove garlic,
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme,
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Wash carrots if you can avoid shaving them when they are young. Cut small carrots lengthwise into thin strips.

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. 3-4 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the carrots and boil them together.

Wash the squirrels. Fry bacon cubes in a pan, add chopped garlic and chopped onion leaves, mushrooms with thyme. Cook until the squirrels are soaked in their juices.

Drain the cooked pasta with the carrots and add to the pan with the squirrels. Mix well and put in plates.

Pasta with fresh beets and smoked cottage cheese

For 2 people you will need:

  • 200 g Lithuanian durum wheat “penne rigate” pasta,
  • 200 g fresh young small beetroot,
  • several onion leaves,
  • 1 clove garlic,
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme,
  • 2 tablespoons quality balsamic vinegar,
  • 100 grams of smoked cottage cheese,
  • 50 grams of roasted hazelnuts,
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste,
  • Olive oil for cooking.

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Wash the beets well, if they are small, you should not peel them. Cut the beets into small pieces.

Fry the chopped beets in olive oil in a pan. After roasting them, add some water from the pot of boiling pasta and fry the beets briefly until soft. When the water evaporates, add chopped garlic and onion leaves, lightly fry and pour balsamic vinegar, boil, season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add finely chopped smoked cottage cheese, mix and leave warm.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the beets and cheese. Mix well and put in plates. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and toasted hazelnuts.

Pasta with pea and dill pesto

For 2 people you will need:

  • 200 g of Lithuanian durum “Caceres” pasta,
  • 200 grams of fresh or frozen peas,
  • 2 tablespoons dill pesto sauce,
  • 2 tablespoons grated hard cheese,
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

For the Dill Pesto:

  • 200 grams of fresh dill,
  • 100 grams of peeled pumpkin seeds,
  • 200 ml olive oil,
  • 50 grams of grated hard cheese,
  • 2 cloves of garlic,
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice,
  • A pinch of salt.

Prepare the dill pesto sauce in advance. Fry the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan. Roughly chop clean dill and add it to the chopper along with garlic and roasted pumpkin seeds, add olive oil and chop until it turns into a smooth sauce mass. Mix it with salt, lemon juice, grated cheese and store in the refrigerator.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the instructions on the packet. Add the peas to the water a few minutes before the end of cooking. Mix two tablespoons of water in which the pasta was cooked with two tablespoons of dill pesto. Drain the cooked pasta with the peas and mix with the prepared dill pesto. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and grated cheese.

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