One of the first questions I get when I introduce my wife is “Where did you two meet?”. I don’t know why, is an American-Slovak-Hungarian combo that weird? So make it even more weird — I say “in Kosovo”. That always takes the conversation away from us and transforms it to a discussion about Kosovo. Yes it is true, we met in the Balkans and we worked together and we fell in love with each other, then got married, had kids and started this blog. Maybe when someone asks me how I met my wife, I should say “while we were eating Shopska salad”. Is this true? Most likely yes, because being in the Balkans was all about eating a lot of Shopska salad.
The Shopska mountains are a range in Bulgaria, and so maybe the dish originates there, but every restaurant south of Hungary seems to have its version of this summer staple. For Katy especially, Shopska was often the only thing on the menu she would eat, being vegetarian. So much that after we came home, we decided never again! But it seems we have developed some weird addiction to it and when the tomato season comes, we always find ourselves making a nice cold Shopska salad. You should make it too!
You might thing that this sounds like Greek salad. No, it is not Greek salad and tastes different. It is similar, but if you will insist that it is Greek salad, I will have to poke you with a FORK! The lack of olives and olive oil makes the salad lighter and is fresher. Also the cheese should coat the tomatoes and the onions making the salad creamy.
A disclaimer: I love Greek salad and I love its depth and lack of creaminess. With this paragraph I just wanted to point out the differences between Greek Salad and Shopska salad. Sometimes you have the mood for different tastes. I love Greece. Please do not impale me! Thank you.
This is a very simple recipe with limited ingredients. It is important that you use the best ripe tomatoes you can get. Depending how salty your feta is, you might add a little bit of salt. The ratio of tomatoes to cucumbers should be something like 2:1. Feel free to alternate if you like cucumbers more. “White cheese” in the Balkans varies a lot. Some is hard and crumbly, some is softer and more creamy. If you see “Bulgarian Feta” which is harder but not too soft, try it.
- 1 medium cucumber
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 12 oz/340 g Bulgarian feta cheese
- ½ small onion
- Dice the cucumber and chop the tomatoes into ½ – 1 inch bits. Dice the onion.
- Add the ingredients into a bowl.
- Take 1/3 of the feta and grate it over the vegetables. Chop the rest into ½-inch cubes and sprinkle over the vegetables.
- Toss all the ingredients together, and chill.
- Usually Shopska is enjoyed as a side dish.