From the kitchen of Katherine Rallis Hall
Some of my earliest memories involved a feeling of “belonging” with my mother, aunts, and grandmother in one of their kitchens on a Saturday night as they gathered in their aprons, working busily at their stations, every surface covered in china bowls, pie plates, and Corning Wear filled with wonderfully familiar Mediterranean foods. Skilled Macedonian hands were lovingly chopping and mixing, kneading and rolling, cooking and baking, and all of us were taking in the aromas of fresh herbs pulled from window sill pots, and vegetables still gritty with dirt from the garden.
The Shopska Salata was a constant that was eaten in combination with the dishes presented at the meal. It is eaten throughout the Balkans and Southern Europe, but this is the Macedonian village version I grew up with.
It can be easily made vegan, raw food, or plant based, and, with some healthy additions to make this a more robust meal salad, as a cool fix during hot and humid summer days.
Mindful eating at its best. Na-zdrav-ye (good health)!
Macedonian Shopska Salata
Into a large bowl, dice the following into approximately the same sized cubes:
2 cups Cucumbers (seeds and peel removed if desired)
2 cups Fresh cherry, grape, or Roma tomatoes halved or quartered
1 cup White or Vidalia onion (Spanish, yellow, and red onion is too strong)
2 cups Fresh sweet or hot banana peppers
Into a small bowl, whisk the following until combined:
½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup Red/white wine vinegar (or combo of wine and balsamic vinegars)
½ cup Fresh flat-leaf parsley – chopped
½ tsp Sea salt (the feta topping will make the salad saltier, so ease up on the sea salt now if needed)
½ tsp Ground black pepper
1 cup Macedonian feta cheese (you can substitute vegan feta) (rinse the salty brine from the chunk of cheese before crumbling if you’re watching your sodium)
1 tsp Dried basil or 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
- Gently fold dressing into the bowl of chopped veggies until veggies are well coated
- Taste for black pepper and vinegar (it should be quite tart, but you can add some balsamic for a sweeter, deeper flavour)
- Top with crumbled feta
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- The longer this salad marinates in the fridge (up to 2 hours), the better it tastes!
To fortify the Salata, you can add in one or more of these ingredients, which can go wonderfully in the Salata:
- 2 cups of cooked quinoa
- 2 cups of cooked and cooled brown rice, wild rice, or parboiled white rice
- 2 cups of cooked pasta (try orzo) (semolina/whole wheat or brown rice/gluten free)
- 2 cups of diced boiled potatoes, turnip/rutabaga, or firm root vegetable
- 2 cups of cooked lentils, any kind
- 1 cup of canned rinsed lima beans, soybeans, chickpeas, or other legumes
- 2 cups of soybean sprouts
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- Chopped hardboiled eggs
- 2 cups of shredded or cubed roasted chicken (white/dark meat or tofu chicken)
- ½ cup of Black olives, pitted
- Whole pickled pepperoncini (for a zesty bite!)
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts
- 1 cup of toasted pigñolis (pine nuts)
- 2 cups of torn up crusty bread/gluten free bread
- Diced watermelon