Olia Hercule's Cypriot (and Bulgarian) Salad

There is something extremely comforting about this version of what we know as ‘Greek salad’. In Bulgaria they call it shopski.

In Cyprus, where I lived, it was very often undressed (oil and vinegar or lemon juice were provided for DIY dressing), served with a massive slab of feta on top for you to separate with a fork.

But in one particular place, an ancient taverna in the old town of Limassol, the feta was finely grated over the salad, which I found especially pleasing, as it eventually melts and forms part of the dressing.

I serve this with Cypriot Keftedes or very simply grilled prawns, and transport myself back to my teenage years. I can still feel the coolness of the stone walls of the taverna, shielding us from the sun.

Serve it undressed if you have people coming over and provide dressing ingredients on the table. For my family, I dress it just before serving it.

Photography © Joe Woodhouse

Ingredients for Cypriot Salad

  • ½ small red onion
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar, or juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 very ripe tomatoes
  • 1 regular cucumber or 2 small cucumbers
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 carrot
  • handful of (ideally) Kalamata olives, the best you can get
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • 200g feta
  • Sea salt

How to Make Cypriot Salad

  1. Slice the red onion as finely as you can into half moons. Put it in a salad bowl (a shallow bowl works best) and pour over half the vinegar, or squeeze over half the lemon, to temper its harshness.
  2. Slice the tomatoes into slim wedges. If any of the juices seep out, swipe them with your hand into the lemony onions. Put the tomatoes into the salad bowl.
  3. Slice the cucumber into quite chunky rounds and put them with the other veg.
  4. Cut the pepper in half, deseed, and, if it is a big one, cut it in half lengthways again and then slice it across. Add it to the bowl.
  5. Grate the carrot on the coarse side of a grater and add it, too, to the bowl.
  6. Throw in the whole olives. If you have kids eating, you can pit the olives beforehand; I just smash them with the flat side of the knife and remove the stones.
  7. Finally, make the dressing by whisking together the remaining vinegar or lemon juice and the oregano with oil and salt to taste. Stir it through the salad. Finely grate half the feta on top. I leave the remaining feta and the grater on the table, so everyone can top themselves up when needed.
© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024

Read our interview with Olia Hercules to learn more or shop her top picks.


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