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MY ISTRIA GUIDE

Discover manestra - the queen of traditional Istrian savory stew-like dishes

Discover maneštra - the queen of traditional Istrian savory stew-like dishes

Istrian manestra - what is it and how is it prepared?

If the road takes you to Istria to one of the villas with pool from our offer, do not miss the opportunity to taste a classic, traditional Istrian dish - manestra.

Considering that manestra has been on the menu of Istrians since the olden days and that it has fed dozens of hungry generations, the dish certainly deserves the title of the queen of Istrian gastronomy. It is the most famous stew-like dish in Istria, and its popularity has spread to the northern part of the Adriatic. It can be served as a first course if prepared without meat, but also as a main dish. The popularity of this traditional dish is evidenced by the fact that every year in June in the village of Gracisce a festival of Istrian manestra is held.

The traditional Istrian cuisine can be described as simple. Ingredients that one had at hand at the given moment were used for cooking.

happy-woman-and-girl-in-kitchen-adding-pepper-in-a-pot-while-cooking-vegetable-soup

All manestra stews have two main ingredients: beans and potatoes, while the third ingredient can vary depending on the season. The third ingredient is the one after which manestra usually got its name, so we distinguish between manestra od slanca (with chickpea), manestra od jacmika (with barley), fennel manestra, manestra od bobici (with corn) and the so-called jota (with cabbage or beet).

Various types of dried pork meat are traditionally added to each of these manestra: dried pork legs are added to the barley manestra, dried pork ribs to the chickpea manestra, dried pork tongue in the fennel manestra, and bacon to the jota.

What distinguishes manestra from other stew-like and soup dishes is the seasoning with the so-called pest. The pest is prepared from finely chopped bacon, garlic and parsley leaves, which are mixed together into a paste and added to the manestra at the very beginning of cooking in order for the bacon to be completely cooked through. The manestra usually contains a dry ham bone.

The preparation reveals the simplicity and modesty of the former traditional Istrian cuisine.

white-bowl-of-vegetable-soup-with-potatoes-peas-and-carrots-and-a-spoon-next-to-it

There are a few rules in preparation. The dish is always cooked in a larger pot, usually 2-3 hours. It is advisable to soak the beans in water the night before, but if they are not soaked, it would be good to boil the beans briefly together with the bones and throw away the water because impurities remain in it and the water will not be used for further cooking.

Fry finely chopped onion, washed and carrots cut into rings in olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add the beans, potatoes and water. After you bring it to a boil, add the pest. Meanwhile, in a special pot boil the ham bone or other dry bones. When the beans and potatoes are half cooked, add the dry bones and seasonal vegetables to the manestra. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 3 hours.
If you want a thicker manestra, you can also put a few whole peeled potatoes in it, which you can take out before the end of cooking, mash them with a fork and put them back in the pot to thicken it.

Enjoy your meal and have a pleasant stay in Istria. :)


Monika Pranjic

11.9.2022
 
+385 1 222 70 50