Kotlovina has always been a summertime favourite of mine!
Growing up Croatian, this was an integral part of any family summertime get together. The best part was and still is when everyone gathers around with chunks of bread for dipping and tasting… laughing together and getting really excited for the meal ahead!
Kotlovina literally means “food from the cauldron”, and the kotlovi (comes from the Croatian word kotao which means cauldron) is this incredible steel plate you can use to cook outdoors with. We’ve finally found a site to order one of off – it’s on it’s way and we are beyond excited to have our own.
Traditionally Kotlovina is a meat-heavy dish with the vegetables and sauce being more of an after-thought and side accompaniment. Not in this recipe!
Vegetables are showcased front and centre here with a delicious tofu option. The depth of flavour achieved in the stew can’t really be explained ’till it’s been tasted… so give it a shot and let me know what you think!
I think cooking this dish outdoors is best but you definitely don’t need a kotlov to make this dish. Try using a wok or large pot on an outdoor gas burner, or just on your stove inside (with the windows wide open?).
I love to serve vegan Kotlovina with spicy roasted potatoes (recipe also below) and my home-made gluten-free flatbread [recipe available in my e-cookbook]. Another great gluten-free bread alternative is this amazing Millet & Chia loaf from Little Northern Bakehouse – it’s so soft and delicious!
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 6 stalks celery, diced
- 2 sweet peppers, diced
- 5-6 small tomatoes (on the vine preferred), diced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15-oz can pinto or cannellini beans
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp Italian herbs
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes * optional
- 1½ tsp paprika
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups white wine
- 4 cups water
Optional tofu ingredients:
- 1 package organic extra-firm tofu, pressed for at least 2 hours (Soyarie is my preferred brand)
- 2 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos
Roasted Potato Ingredients:
- 12 yellow-flesh potatoes, washed and cut into quarters (skins on)
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp BBQ spice rub (this brand is the closest I’ve found to my grandmother’s amazing home blend) *optional
- ½ tsp smoked chipotle powder *optional
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
* If using the tofu, it needs to be pressed to expel as much liquid as possible if you want a very firm, pleasant texture. To do this, remove the tofu from the packaging, lay it down on it’s largest surface, and cut it into 6 equal ‘steaks’. Layer these tofu ‘steaks’ as such: cutting board on bottom, two layers of paper towel or clean kitchen cloth, tofu, two more layers of paper towel or clean cloth, another cutting board. Then, place a very heavy object on top – I like to use my giant cast iron dutch oven pots! Chef tip: If using paper towel, I save mine and let it dry out, then re-use it for cleaning or to wipe up when cooking. Here’s to no unnecessary waste!
** To finish the tofu, cut each ‘steak’ into 6 equal pieces and place all 36 chunks in a bowl. Toss with the tamari or coconut aminos and let it sit to marinate for a short while. Then, lay the tofu chunks out on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake at 400F for about 25-30 minutes. Chef tip: I cook the tofu with the potatoes – setting different timers for each – and take the tofu out of the oven to let it rest and firm up as soon as it’s done.
1. Get started with proper mise en place – that is, preparing all of your ingredients ahead of time and having them out to make the cooking process 1000x easier. Honestly guys, this is the only way to cook – I highly encourage you to start building this skill if you haven’t already! Chef tip: Combine all of your spices into one little spice bowl ready and set aside rather than trying to measure each individual ingredient into your pot or pan when the step calls for it.
2. Preheat the oven to 400F and grab a big bowl to cut your potatoes into. Add all of the spices and seasonings to the potatoes, THEN add the oil. Toss to coat evenly.
3. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until brown and crispy on the outside, and soft and fluffy on the inside. Chef tip: I get the potatoes in the oven and immediately go outside to start the Kotlovina. Timers tell me when to check the potatoes and as soon as they are ready, I turn the oven off and leave them in there to keep hot until the stew is done!
4. Get your kotlov or pot heating over medium heat and add the oil to the pan/pot. The oil will heat very quickly if using the kotlov.
5. Add the onions, stir to coat in oil, and let these cook for about 2 minutes to start to soften.
6. Add the celery, stir to coat, and let these cook for about 2 minutes.
7. Add the sweet peppers, stir to coat, and let these cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions, celery, and sweet peppers start to roast and develop good colour.
8. Add the tomatoes, stir to coat, and let these cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until you notice the colour and texture changing into a deeper red and softer feel.
9. Add the garlic, stir to coat, and let this cook for a minute to really wake up the garlic.
10. Add beans and all of the spices and seasonings, stir to coat. Turn the heat up to high – let this cook for about 2 minutes to toast and activate all of the flavours while we get ready to add the liquids.
11. Add the white wine, stir, then add the water, and stir thoroughly. Let this come to a gentle boil before lowering the heat back down to low. Let the stew simmer for about 15-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are deliciously tender, the liquid has reduced some, and the stew takes on a thicker consistency. Chef tip: After the 15 minute mark is the perfect time to start tasting and adjusting seasoning as necessary. Your taste buds will know when the stew is done!
12. Serve hot with the roasted potatoes, baked tofu, and a delicious side of bread if you so choose!