Not too long ago, even if one wanted a fruit or a vegetable out of season, it would be bought at a supermarket and the price would be heavy. Imports of produce into Greece are widespread and depsite this “advancement” in the Greek markets, many in Greece still prefer to eat seasonally as it’s cheaper, the food tastes better and dishes and diet are a reflection of what time of year it is.
September gives way to the garden vegetables with the last of the tomatoes being enjoyed and the presence of salad greens, winter vegtables like cabbage flood the market. Greeks will often make cabbage salads in the cold months and the most popular one being the “politiki salata”. Once again “politiki” refers to a Constantinople dish and this salad is just one of the many to be enjoyed by Greeks in all corners of the country.
The trick to making a good slaw or politiki salata is to get some of that raw flavour out of the cabbage and the best way to do that is to concoct a “quick pickle”. A simple salad but one that can easily dissapoint if it’s served overly dressed or soggy. What I do is add sugar, salt and vinegar and allow the salad vegetables to cure. After about 15-20 minutes I drain the salad and actually squeeze handfuls of the salad to remove excess liquid (and salt and sugar).
The result is a salad that had a proper sweet and sour balance and it’s remarkably still crunchy. Like all my dishes, use sea salt, quality wine vinegar and only the best extra-virgin olive oil…Greek!
Politiki Salata (Πολίτικη σαλάτα)
4 cups of shredded white cabbage
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
1 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of fine salt
1/4 cup wine vinegar
approx. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
chilli flakes (boukovo) to taste
- Place the shredded cabbage, carrot, red pepper and celery in a bowl with the sugar, salt and wine vinegar and toss. Allow to to cure for 15 minutes (or a bit longer).
- Now take handfuls of the salad and place in a strainer and squeeze-dry of excess liquid and place in the bowl. Continue to squeeze the remaining salad then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and toss.
- Adjust seasoning with salt, wine vinegar and toss once again and serve immediately (add some chilli flakes if you like some heat).
NOTE: If you want to prepare ahead, cut/shred the vegetables and place covered in your fridge and add the sugar, salt, vinegar about 20 minutes before serving.
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