Monday, May 7, 2012

Bleki, Slovenia's Favorite Noodle



Bleki are nothing more than homemade pasta or egg noodles, cut into square or rectangular shapes.

I discovered bleki in the course of tracking down my grandmother's Mystery Soup, which turned out to be the Slovenian take on pasta fazool, or pasta and bean soup.  But evidently the pasta had the starring role, at least in my mother's family, since she referred to the soup simply as "black-eh."

In fact, bleki have an oddly exalted status in Slovenian cooking.  An entry on the official Slovenian Tourist Board website describes this "simple dish"  as a "special treat." Bleki were associated with special occasions in rural life, like finishing up the harvest or picking grapes.  A recent cookbook by a Slovenian academician and cooking expert describes it as a "high dish," often served with a cream sauce and pancetta.

To make the bleki for the pašta fažul, I used the dough I had used in the previous week's rezanci.  It's a simple recipe:

2 eggs
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt

Mix and knead, adding a little water if needed.  Cover and let rest 15 minutes.  Roll out thinly.

Here is where plain old noodles become bleki:  Cut the dough into squares or rectangles.  I aimed for  2 cm x 3 cm rectangles, but if you look at the photo below, you will see that those shapes varied in size.

Let the pasta squares dry on a dishcloth for an hour.  Cook in boiling salted water until done.  Not long, in other words.  Drain and use as you will.


That's it!

Homemade noodles and pasta are delicious, no question about it.  Not to mention a little labor intensive.

So what is so special about bleki?  Just the shape?

It took me awhile to figure it out.  Yes, it has to be the shape.  Standard noodles or rezanci are quicker to make, and it is easier to create uniform sizes.  You just roll up multiple layers of dough and slice. At least that's the theory.  I had a problem with the layers of noodles sticking together.



Blecki, on the other hand, take more time and a better eye:




So far, I have use bleki just one way, in soup.  But I'm ready to branch out.  Next time, I'll try it with one of those creamy pancetta sauces.  But I'll wait for a special occasion to make bleki the centerpiece of the meal.  



2 comments:

  1. This looks really nice to try. I am glad to learn something about you and your historical culture too. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      I just made the noodles again last night, six weeks after the first attempt reported here. Used a food processor because my finger is in a splint. It comes out better with hand kneading! But still good.

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