The Queen of Salads: The Polish Vegetable Salad

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DSC_0096Ingredients: 2 big carrots or 3 medium ones, 3 medium potatoes or 2 big ones, ½ celeriac, 1 medium parsley root or parsnip, 1 red pepper, ½ yellow or red onion, 5 red radishes, ½ red apple, 2 medium eggs, 1 can of petit pois peas, 5 tbsp mayo, 2 tsp mustard, 1 tbsp olive oil, juice of ½ lemon

Seasoning: salt and pepper (as needed)

If you ever have the chance to attend a Polish dinner, I can guarantee you that you’ll have Polish bread, a selection of Polish hams and sausages and the vegetable salad, known as the sałatka jarzynowa. The sałatka is a real staple in the Polish cuisine and it is one of those dishes that I could eat every day. It has been a favourite of mine since I was a little kid and for a very long time it was the only way that I would eat vegetables. Fortunately things have changed now and I pretty much eat everything.

There are so many different variations of this salad that it is quite impossible to have an original recipe, because every region will claim that theirs is the only original ore. Most of the times the recipe itself has been passed on from generation to generation, which means that every respectful Polish family will also clam that theirs is the one and only sałatka. And of course, even if your mum makes the best sałatka in the world, it will never been as good as the one made by your babcia (‘grandma’ in Polish).

Despite its name, you wouldn’t have this salad on its own … I could actually, but that’s another story. Usually it would be served at dinner along with a crunchy Polish bread that your dziadek (Polish for ‘grandad;) had bought earlier in the morning along with the most addictive and delicious butter that you could ever taste and with some pickled cucumbers, rigorously home made by wójek Tadzik (‘uncle Tadzik’). And of course being one of the main dishes served at the Christmas Eve dinner, the sałatka has gained the status of the Queen of Polish salads.

The recipe that I am sharing today is the one that I do most of the times when I have all the ingredients (I have already shared at the very beginning an extremely simplified version that you can see here) and every time I make it, it’s a winner: whether it is for a group of friends or for a romantic dinner with my fiancé, it gets swept away immediately.

My version features the basic main ingredients, e.g. root vegetables, potatoes, eggs and peas plus all the remaining ones that have been passed on by my Polish family. In other parts of Poland, depending on the region, you might find other variations, which include:

  • pickled cucumbers
  • corn
  • herrings
  • mushrooms

DSC_0097

the 5 senses method:

serves 4

  1. In a medium sauce pan filled with water, place the carrots, potatoes, celeriac and parsley, all previously peeled, and bring to a boil. The veggies should be tender but not falling apart. Remove from water and set aside. Let them cool. In another sauce pan hard-boil the eggs. It should take approximately 9 minutes. Once they are boiled to perfection, remove the shelves and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, finely chop the red pepper, the onion, the red radishes and the apple and place them in a large mixing bowl. Drain and rinse the peas and add them to the bowl.
  3. Once the boiled vegetables and the eggs have cooled down, dice them finely and add them to the remaining ingredients. Gently stir to combine.
  4. Add the mustard,  3 tbsp of mayo, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and fold into the mixture. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of mayo and give it a final stir. Adjust as per your taste. Remember that the sałatka should have a very mild taste and it shouldn’t be neither too salty nor too spicy.
  5. Better served immediately. It can keep in the fridge for maximum 2 days.

#discoverpolishflavours

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