THE Recipe: Traditional Easter dishes in Slovenia

Photo: Mateja Jordovič Potočnik for Cook Eat Slovenia cookbook

Easter Day is considered as one of the most important Christian holidays in Slovenia. Easter Day in Slovenia marks the end of the fasting period that starts on Ash Wednesday. 

Easter Day will be celebrated on April 4 2021 in Slovenia. And as Easter tradition in Slovenia goes there will be a big morning breakfast, which includes the colorful array of Easter eggs and cooked ham. Without these two “main Easter ingredients” there really is not Easter. Usually this morning Easter breakfast or feast is accompanied by the famous potica. In this article, we explore the traditional Easter breakfast as we have it in Slovenia. Furthermore, we also explore how to color Easter eggs like Slovenians. But first, let’s discover how Easter is celebrated in Slovenia.

Did we mention this holiday is so important in Slovenia we get da day off work? Not complaining at all.

Traditional Easter Day in Slovenia

The Easter Day holiday in Slovenia is an excuse for the whole family to celebrate together at a table full of Easter delicacies. In preparation, each member of the family is assigned a cooking project, which is lots of fun. The women decorate the Easter eggs (usually together with the children), bake the potica, prepare the horseradish dips, while my dad boils and slices the ham. We may be peculiar but, like many other Slovenians, we eat ham with the potica rather than bread. I remember what Grandpa Rudi taught us about the symbolism of every dish: potica represents the crown of thorns, eggs stand for drops of blood, horseradish root for the holy nails and ham for the body of Christ. He often joked that blood should be represented by red wine, which sure enough, became a must at every Easter breakfast, but only for adults.

Easter Eggs or pirhi

Easter eggs, called pirhi in the Slovene language, play the lead role at this time of year. They are used as decoration no Slovenian family can go without. My family adheres to the tradition of coloring eggs with natural dyes. Onion skin and red wine, Teran specifically, were the weapons of choice used even by my grannies. My mom, on the other hand, uses a technique called “photo-negative eggs”, which she discovered while testing a new natural dye. Use eggs that are one week old to facilitate the peeling process. Keep them at room temperature at least one hour before cooking. Every one of these eggs is unique. They are traditionally gifted to family and friends on Easter Monday, a work-free day. The Easter Day delicacies are usually also presented to the local church for a blessing, this part of the tradition will probably be skipped this year due to Coronavirus.

Traditional Easter Day dishes in Slovenia

Eggs in Onion Skin

Start collecting onion skin as early as one month before Easter. There has to be enough to cover the eggs. The more red onion skin you use, the darker the eggs will be. The number of eggs you decorate is up to you. For decoration, pick various spring plants, leaves and blossoms from a nearby meadow.  The more spread out and dynamic the plant, the better the impression on the egg. 

  • 20 eggs
  • Dry skin of red and brown onions 
  • A few pinches of salt
  • Different types of grass, leaves and flowers
  • Thread
  • Stockings, cut in 10×10 cm (4×4 inches) squares

Dying the eggs requires a large pot. Place in the onion skin and pour in enough water to cover the skin. Add a few pinches of salt. Bring to boil, take off the heat and wait until cool. Cooked onion skin will color the eggshell. 

In the meantime, prepare the eggs. Place a flower or a grass stalk on a raw egg. Stretch a square of stockings over the egg and wrap around. Lift the egg, pull all the corners of the stocking to form a bunch and tie securely with a thread. 

When ready, carefully place the eggs into the water containing the onion skin. After the water boils, cook at medium heat for 10 minutes. When done, gently take the eggs out and wait until they cool down a bit. Cut away the stocking with scissors and wipe the plants off with your finger. Coat with butter or pork fat for a nice shine.  

Photo: Mateja Jordovič Potočnik for Cook Eat Slovenia cookbook

Eggs in Teran

  • 1 l (4 cups or 34 fl oz) Teran red wine
  • Egg, as many as you want

Pour the wine into a pot, place in the eggs and cook at medium heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and leave the eggs in until the wine cools. Carefully extract the eggs from the pot and lay them down to dry. Use a Ruby Red, full-bodied Teran from the Slovenian Karst region for a beautiful scarlet tint and glittery look induced by the crystallization of the sugars in the wine. 

“Photo-Negative” Eggs

  • Eggs, as many as you want
  • 3 tbsp vinegar
  • 5 rose hip teabags
  • A few pinches of salt

Embellish raw eggs with plants, as in the recipe for Eggs in Onion Skin. Pour water into a large pot, add salt, vinegar and the contents of the rose hip tea bags. Gently lay in the eggs and cook for 10 minutes at medium heat. The acid will color the eggs, which will retain their natural tint only where covered by the plants. 

Cooked Ham

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) smoked ham

Lay ham in a large pot and cover fully with cold water. Cook for 60 minutes at medium heat. When cooked, take off the heat and leave the ham to cool in the water. I like it lukewarm and sliced thin. Pure perfection. 

Horseradish with Apples

There is no Easter breakfast without horseradish. You can prepare it by just grating it, finely or coarsely, or with the addition of grated apple, if pure horseradish is too strong for you. This amazing root will kick your breakfast experience up a notch. 

  • 30 g (1 oz) fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tbsp vinegar 
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Pinch of salt

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Apples and horseradish must be grated to equal thickness.  

Horseradish with Sour Cream

  • 60 g (2 oz) fresh horseradish, peeled and finely grated
  • 6 tbsp sour cream
  • Pinch of salt

Mix the ingredients well. Feel free to change the ratio between horseradish and sour cream to your taste.  

Explore Slovenian traditional dishes here.

Photo: Mateja Jordovič Potočnik for Cook Eat Slovenia cookbook

What are your Easter Day traditions? Let us know in the comments below!

All recipes can be found in the book Cook Eat Slovenia, which is available in our online store.