From the Field

In the kitchen: Moldovan plăcintă recipe

Two plăcintă cakes decorated with sprigs of dill served on a pale green plate sitting on top of a scarf with spring colors.

Plăcintă (pronounced plah-CHEEN-tah) is a traditional Moldovan pastry that offers the warmth of a cozy blanket. It hails from Moldova and Romania but is enjoyed by many people across Eastern Europe. In Molodova, where whole restaurants are devoted to it, this dish must feel like a small piece of home for refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Moldovans have opened their country and their homes to refugees despite living in one of the poorest countries in Europe. Many then downplay their generosity, saying that anyone would help.

This comfort food reflects Moldovan hospitality. The pie comes in varied shapes and with a number of different fillings, cheese being the most common. It’s not hard to imagine Moldovan families enjoying plăcintă with their Ukrainian neighbors. That image paints a picture of irrepressible generosity.

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar or lemon juice added)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • olive or vegetable oil, for frying

Filling

  • 2 cups feta cheese
  • 2 cups ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small bunch of dill

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Stir in the egg, buttermilk, milk, and 3 tablespoons of oil until dough comes together.
  3. In a separate bowl, finely crumble feta cheese and mix with ricotta cheese and egg.
  4. Chop the fresh dill and mix into the cheese and egg mixture until evenly spread throughout.
  5. Divide dough into 8 sections.
  6. Roll each section into an 8-inch circle on a floured surface.
  7. Add 3/4 to 1 cup of filling mixture to the center of each circle. Spread the filling out until it reaches just up to 1/4 inch from the edge of the dough.
  8. Fold the edges of the dough over the top of the filling so that you have 4 to 6 folds over the top.
  9. Roll out the filled dough into a 6-inch circle.
  10. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and coat the surface with oil. Add the pies one at a time and crisp them on each side until golden brown — 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  11. Transfer to a plate and serve hot.

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Eastern Europe

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A young girl with blue eyes in a pink hooded sweatshirt glances sideways as a boy appears in the background.
From the Field

What is a refugee?

Two women pass in front of makeshift tents in a displacement camp.
Special Features

Uprooted: A gallery of global displacement