Summer holidays in my grandmother’s house. Sunshine and light, butterflies and flowers, fresh sweet strawberries and endless fun.
My cousin and I were playing in the garden. My grandmother has just put buckets of water in the heat of the sun to get warm for our afternoon swimming pool play. I do not remember how the idea came along, but suddenly we had decided to make lunch for ourselves. Two years older than me, at seven my long, golden haired cousin with beautiful blue eyes full of mischeif, was the centre of my world. I still remember watching with fascination her leading the way to the open area kitchen, washing the vegetables and instructing me gently how a salad was being made. “She could already cook…!” was my only taught. After chopping the vegetables, she made the sunflower oil and vinegar dressing, first tasting then adding the salt. Satisfied, we sat in the shade, balancing the plate on our feet and using two forks we dipped bread into the salad dressing already rich in flavour absorbing all the juices of the the fresh garden picked ripe tomatoes and we ate.
Thirty years later and I still remember the taste.
Thirty years later and I close my eyes and still see the sun-shade veranda and the vibrant salad colours of reds and greens.
To make a good mediterranean salad these days, I start by choosing fresh ingredients from the market. For today’s salad I am using grilled red paprika, cucumber, feta and three varieties of cheery tomatoes: yellow, red and purple. The red tomatoes hint of freshness and acidity, the yellow are full of generous sweetness and the purple add a special depth of flavour. Mixed all together they are transformed into the most magical salad you will ever try.
Serves 4 people
- 1 cucumber
- 3 grilled red paprikas
- 500g red red tomatoes
- 250g purple and yellow cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- sea salt
- Handfull of chopped fresh parsley
- 250g feta cheese
1. Pre-heat the oven to 225C. Wash the paprikas and spread them evenly on a baking tray. Set them in the oven and bake them for 30 minutes, turning them around every 10 minutes so they can grill evenly on all sides. When ready, take them out of the oven and while still hot, place then in plastic bag for 10 minutes. In this way the skin of the paprikas will soften and will easy to peel. Take the paprikas out of the plastic bag, peel the skin and take a way the central seeds. Chop the paprika into small pieces and place in a salad bawl.
2. Chop the tomatoes and add them in the salad bawl.
3. Peel the cucumber and chop it into pieces. Add them to the remaining vegetables in the salad bawl.
4. Cut the feta cheese into cubes and add to the salad.
5. Chop a handful of fresh parsley and to the salad.
6. Drizzle over with sunflower salad oil and sea salt and mix well together all the ingredients.
7. Serve while still fresh. Fits perfectly with cold white wine and rakia (local Bulgarian brandy drink).