My vegan take on the classic Bulgarian Shopska salata; a simple and refreshing dish, which is as quick to make as it is delicious.
Winter is still very much in evidence here in Kašelj but I’ve been thinking a lot about salads recently. Although it’s great to be able to make lots of hearty winter food, such as my Use-It-Up Pumpkin Soup, and Jota, I’ve been hankering after lighter, fresher-tasting fare of late.
This delicious Bulgarian salad is similar to its Greek counterpart, and is, apparently, named for the Shopi people in the villages to the west of Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. It was allegedly popularised (some say, invented) in 1960 by the state-run tourist organisation, Balkantourist. If this is true, I’d hazard a guess that Shopska Salad (Шопска салата) is actually an updated traditional recipe… I cannot imagine that something like this has only been around for 50 years or so.
I used a version of my own mustard and maple dressing instead of a plain vinaigrette… this is entirely down to personal taste – I just wanted something a little sweeter than plain vinaigrette, of which I am not overly fond.
Finally, peppers… I love Romano peppers but traditionally, green ones are used. I have to admit that I’m not really a fan of green peppers – I find them too bitter – but amato mio likes them, so in they go. Sometimes! Yellow or orange ones work just fine, though, and make the dish very visually appealing.
I also love roasted red peppers, and find they work very well in Shopska salad. If you fancy going down this route, you can either roast them in a hot oven for a few minutes, until their skins blacken, then peel and slice them when cool, or simply (and carefully) hold them over a naked flame to get the same effect.
Whether you use one colour pepper or several, this simple, delicious salad is a welcome addition to any meal. I hope you enjoy it.
- 200 g vegan feta-style cheese
- 4 large tomatoes cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 large peppers sliced thinly
- 150 g cucumber peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 medium red onion sliced into fine rings
- A few flat leaf parsley leaves chopped
For the dressing:
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus a few sprays
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp grain mustard
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- Fresh herbs to garnish
- Dash ground black pepper
- Dash of sea salt
- Put all the vegetables and the parsley into a large bowl, crumble 175g cheese onto the salad, and gently mix everything together – it’s easiest to do this with your hands.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together until they emulsify (the dressing will thicken, and it will appear lighter in colour). If necessary, adjust to taste.
- Add the dressing to the salad, and again, gently mix until everything is coated.
- Grate the remaining 25g cheese over the top of the salad, and garnish with a sprig of herbs, and a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt.
- Home-made vegan feta doesn't grate well, so you may wish to either not grate it at all, or use a commercially-produced v-feta, such as Bute Island's Sheese.
- Vegan feta grates better when it's frozen.
- 1 cup = US cup = 240 ml
- 1 tbsp = US/UK = 15 ml
- 1 fl oz = US = 30 ml