Friday, October 23, 2009

Lahanosalata… Greek Coleslaw Salad (Λαχανοσαλάτα)



One of the things that always amuses me whenever I see it on a menu or in an advertisement is the phrase “Greek salad”. Now, Greek salad is commonly understood as either one of two things: a combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion and feta cheese (and sometimes peppers), or the same aforementioned ingredients with the addition of lettuce. The truth is, Greeks consume more vegetables (both raw and cooked) than all other Europeans, and the numerous “salads” one can find throughout the various regions of Greece are as varied as the terrain. The one thing, though, that never makes it into a “Greek salad” in Greece is lettuce!

Although North Americans are familiar with coleslaw as a side for fish and chips or pulled pork, few of us are aware that coleslaw salad was known to both the ancient Greeks and Romans, and although many regional variations exist today, the combination of shredded cabbage and carrot is as old as the hills. Of course, some things have changed - the colour of the carrot for instance. In ancient times, carrots were either white or purplish in colour. We have the Dutch to thank for the orange colour of present-day market carrots as they bred their national colour into the strain we commonly refer to as “carrots”.

So, the next time somebody asks you to make a “Greek salad”, try this one:

Recipe:

1/3 of a white cabbage
2 large carrots

For the Dressing:

1/2 cup of Greek-style strained yogurt
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or vinegar)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or dill
1/2 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
Salt & Pepper

1. Wash cabbage well and peel carrots.

2. Shred the cabbage finely with a sharp knife. Cabbage is a tough vegetable due to the density of its layered composition, so you may find it difficult/dangerous to achieve thin slices with a knife in which case you can use a mandoline. Once the cabbage is well shredded place in a large mixing bowl.

3. Shred the carrots into ribbons using a mandoline (or the large holes on a grater) and add to shredded cabbage.

4. Toss shredded cabbage and carrots well to ensure a good mixing.

5. In a food processor/blender, add all of the dressing ingredients (yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper) and blend together until smooth and creamy.

6. Pour dressing overtop of individual servings or mix well into the entire salad before serving.

Garnish with chopped parsley or dill and a Kalamata olive or two.

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