I am so stoked to partner with one of my FAVORITE olive oils of all time, California Olive Ranch, to make my version of Moldovan savory pastries (placinte).
The culinary community has long been woke to the wonders of California Olive Ranch olive oils: they’re cold-pressed using olives from California and I recently found out that California Olive Ranch harvests their olives when they’re just ripe enough as opposed to over-ripe. Over-ripe olives yield more oil but it tends to be more bitter + acidic at that stage which is one of the reasons why California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil is floral, fruity and grassy with some peppery notes.
If you’ve known me for even 5 seconds you know I am NOT fussy with my cooking. I love rustic recipes, multi-purpose ingredients, and cooking without taking myself too seriously. California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of my staples for that reason: it’s delicious and flavorful enough for salads and drizzling, but at the same time it’s not over-powering and I can use it for baking, frying, etc. Oh and by the way, California Olive Ranch is coming out with some exciting new products soon - stay up to date on their new website!
Anyways, I’m a huge fan. And I wanted to make a dish that would showcase California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil while also exemplifying how it can be a key supporting player in your cooking, which is why I decided to make Moldovan savory pastries (placinte).
Both my grandparents on my mom’s side were born in what was once Romania and is now modern-day Moldova. But through the Holocaust and general Ashkenazi Jewish displacement, a lot of our culinary history was lost. It was also difficult to keep culinary traditions alive in the Soviet Union where scarcity was the norm and ingredients weren’t readily available. I’ve made it my mission to learn how to make dishes from all the cultures that make up my family history - I want to keep them alive. Today’s focus: Moldova! I’ve had my eye on the Moldovan breads recipe from Olia Hercules’ amazing Eastern European cookbook, Mamushka, for ages and I decided to create my own version of the savory pastry. So without further ado, let’s get to it!
Moldovan savory pastries (placinte) with tomatoes, dill, feta, and tvorog
*makes 4 flatbreads
WHAT YOU NEED
2 cups flour + extra for dusting
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup kefir
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
2 cups tomatoes, diced (or you can simply halve grape/cherry tomatoes) - 1/2 cup per pastry
1/2 cup green onion, sliced - 1/8 cup per pastry
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled - 1/4 cup per pastry
1 cup Tvorog (Farmer’s cheese - can sub with cottage cheese) - 1/4 cup per pastry
California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil - you’ll need plenty!
Salt + pepper to taste
WHAT YOU DO
Making the dough:
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt + sugar in a large bowl. Add kefir and a drizzle of California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil and knead until a shaggy dough forms. Continue kneading the dough for 3-4 minutes on a floured work surface. The dough should be tacky but not super wet so if it feels very wet, continue adding flour a tablespoon at a time until the texture improves.
We’re gonna work with 1/4 of the dough at a time so cut the dough in half and then half again. Place the 3 pieces of dough you’re not immediately working with in plastic wrap (or cover with a damp dish towel).
On a well-floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circular shape. Keep going until it’s almost see through.
Filling the placinte:
Drizzle about a tablespoon of California Olive Ranch EVOO in the center of the dough, using a pastry brush or your fingers to spread it out in a thin layer. You can leave a boarder of about 1 inch of dough.
Spread the farmers cheese onto the dough in an even layer. Add the tomatoes + herbs and finish by drizzling more California Olive Ranch EVOO and sprinkling with salt + pepper to taste.
Now it’s time to close up our little pastry:
Take one edge of the dough and fold it in towards the center. Repeat this process, making sure to pinch the edges together in the center, until you’re left with a geometric-looking shape. (I get about 6 folds in usually). If the dough isn’t sticking together, moisten the edges with a bit of water.
Repeat this process for the 3 remaining pieces of dough.
Cooking the placinte:
There are two ways I like to cook my placinte: baking and frying. I suggest you try both!
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil, drizzle with some olive oil, and place the pastry on it.
Make an egg wash by whisking 1-2 eggs in a bowl. Using a pastry brush or a spoon, brush the egg wash over the pastry until it’s coated in a thin later of egg.
Bake the pastry for about 10-15 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
Heat 1 inch of California Olive Ranch EVOO in a skillet on med-high heat. Fry the pastry for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown, taking care not to burn it.