Polítiki salad (pronounced "po-LEE-tee-kee) is a classic that you will find on every family and restaurant table in Greece during the winter months. Greek cuisine is highly seasonal and people still try to avoid eating things that aren't in season, so the typical tomato & cucumber "horiatiki" salad that we enjoy all summer long just isn't as common in winter. Unlike the US, with its huge territory and climatic differences, Greece is a small country that relies on importing non-seasonal items, which can get expensive. Plus, it is part of the Mediterranean diet and culture to only consume things when they are in season, as that's when they are most nutritious. When I was a kid, my family was always followed that rule and I continued this family tradition in my own family, even though we are pretty far from the Mediterranean.
Of course, the flip side of winter is that we usually eat richer, heartier foods because of the cold and Politiki salad is a refreshing and healthy salad that perfectly offsets those dishes. With a base of shredded cabbage & carrots, often topped with red peppers, and always dressed with olive oil and lemon, Politiki is a lighter, more refreshing version of coleslaw. It's packed with healthy ingredients, perfect for this time of year, when we're all fighting winter bugs. Cabbage is believed to be an excellent anti-inflammatory and has vitamins C and K, plus it has lots of fiber and helps digestion. Add to this the health benefits of carrots, red peppers, extra virgin olive oil and lemon, and you have a nice energy booster. Here is the easy recipe.
The juice of 1-2 lemons
A few celery or parsley leaves to top it off
Shred thinly the cabbage with a mandolin.
Shred the carrots with a regular grater.
Slice the roasted Capia peppers.
Mix everything together, add salt to taste, the olive oil and half of the lemon. Taste and add more lemon if needed. Depending on how juicy your lemons are, you may only need one, but you want have a salty and lemony taste and a nice crunch.
A fun fact about red peppers!
In Greece, we don't have the same kind of bell peppers you see here in the States - no red, yellow or orange and even the green peppers are lighter in color than the ones we have here. Greek red peppers are elongated and usually come from the area of Florina in Northern Greece (Elli & Manos' Greek Flavor Burst with Flaming Red Pepper is made with Florina peppers) or from the Peloponnese, where the Capia variety of peppers grows. Capia and Florina peppers are similar, with Capia peppers flatter and more fleshy. For whatever reason, Greek tradition has it that red peppers are always pickled when they're picked in the summer and eaten throughout the year. So you'll rarely see fresh red peppers, just the jarred pickled ones, and we use those in all our dishes, even our salads!
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