Gibanica – Balkan Cheese Pie

Gibanica - Croatian Cheese Pie - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

This recipe is inspired by the famous Gibanica cheese pastry pies served throughout the Balkans. It’s a popular breakfast meal and savory snack I saw on menus and in bakeries in Montenegro and Croatia during my visit in October 2012. There are countless variations, including pastry pies with spinach, poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, and other fillings.

My recipe for vegan gibanica is best described as a curious cross between vegan quiche, lasagna, and strudel – all recipes which I just happen to have previously made for The Lotus and the Artichoke cookbook and this website. It’s no coincidence that the dish closely resembles Turkish and Greek cheese pastries, börek and tiropita. A glance at a map and we all know why. The Balkan states and their neighbors have their own variations (and names) for burek.

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Turkish Bulgur Pilaf

Turkish Bulgur Pilaf - The Lotus and the Artichoke - Vegan Recipes from World Adventures

My first visit to Turkey was in late 2003. I’ve been back a couple of times, usually for brief visits on the way to India via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.

On that first visit, I spent eight days exploring Istanbul, and took a ride out to the Black Sea and stayed in the sleepy seaside town of Amasra. Particularly in Istanbul, I recall afternoons of drinking tea and reading books. The days were beautifully punctuated by the competing calls to worship from mosques with their minarets pointed into the heavens. Continue reading