Almost a year ago, I was listening to The Slavic Connexion interview with Dr. Mary Neuburger, Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin and Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES). She discussed her book, Ingredients of Change: The History and Culture of Food in Modern Bulgaria. I was particularly drawn to her discussion of Chapter 2: Vegetarian Visions and Meatopias. Just fascinating! I ended up buying the book and completely devoured it. Since then, I find myself drawn to Bulgarian recipes. So, after putting together a vegan shopska salad recipe, I had to share it with you!
As Dr. Neuburger writes, shopska salata is “the Bulgarian summer salad extraordinaire”. Invented in the 1960’s by the state tourist agency, Balkanturist, shopska was designed to highlight Bulgaria’s agricultural bounty. It simultaneously conjures the colors of the national flag (white, green, red). Across the internet, some cooks prefer layering the salad ingredients in the same order as the colors of the flag. Other folks just mix it all together.
This shopska salad recipe is very similar to traditional preparations, but with a few modifications. Because there isn’t a plant based sirene cheese available in the U.S., I went with Violife Just Like Feta. To save time, I used jarred roasted red peppers, but you can leave them out, grill your own or use a fresh pepper. For me, the best part is the salty, acidic tomato juice in the bottom on the bowl. Great for sopping up with bread!
This vegan shopska salad recipe makes ~4 servings.
Vegan Shopska Salad
1 large tomato, chopped (OR ~2 cups chopped tomatoes)
½ cup sliced roasted red peppers from a jar, drained (see notes above)
½ large English cucumber, chopped (OR ~2 cups chopped cucumber)
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
Salt, to taste
Sunflower oil, to drizzle
Grated vegan feta cheese, to taste (I added ~½ cup)
Add all the shopska salad ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Stir together, and taste. Adjust seasonings, if needed (more salt?). Serve immediately.