"But why is he telling us all this!" I hear you ask through the magic of the internet. Well, obviously because we ended up spending the week surviving on Shopska, the national salad of Bulgaria. It may sound simple, and I'm not going to imply that simply chopping vegetables requires a recipe, but I felt the meal needed some kind of record for posterity. What can I say?
Maumoniat international supermarket, but the ubiquitous Feta should serve just as well.
Perhaps harder to replicate in Britain are the tomatoes. I don't think I've ever eaten a tomato from a supermarket that satisfied me in any way. I mean, sure, Sainsbury's flavouripe are alright in a bland sandwich, or drenched in dressing, but we just don't have the climate for producing tomatoes that actually taste of what they are. Oh well. It may be worth shelling out for. If you find a good source for tomatoes, let me know. In any case, the texture of the salad demands large and juicy tomatoes rather than small and fruity - if it wouldn't go in Maz's famed Tabbouleh, it wouldn't go in here.
Serves 10 as a starter, maybe 6 as a main.
1 block of Sirena cheese
1 large cucumber
1 large cucumber
2 Green or yellow peppers
2 red onions
4 of the freshest, best beef tomatoes you can find
1 tsp dried parsley
½ tsp dried oregano
6 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper
Begin by chopping the cucumber, peppers and tomatoes into chunks about 1cm wide, and place in a large bowl - actual quantities don't really matter, but there should be a roughly even amount. Likewise, finely chop or slice the onions, add to the bowl and stir the mixture. Season well with salt (to bring out the juices) and set aside for a few minutes.
To make the dressing, simply mix the dried herbs into the oil with a fork. Add some salt and pepper, slosh in the vinegar and shake vigourously in a glass jar. Pour most of the dressing over the mixture in the bowl. Either chop the cheese into large chunks or grate it over the salad - either way is fine, but we preferred the large chunks of salty goodness soaking up the dressing and tomato juices. Drizzle over the remainder of the dressing, and serve with bread and grilled meat.
I know, it doesn't look like much, but the way the saltiness of the cheese is matched by the acidty of the dressing and juice of the tomatoes is one of the closest sensations I've come to culinary perfection.
As a post-recipe bonus, have a picture of me making the salad, in a dodgy vest and using the knife found in our villa that we swiftly entitled "the Bitchfucker".