Shopska salad is Bulgaria’s most famous salad, and the colors of the ingredients represent those on our national flag: white from cheese, green from cucumbers and peppers, and red from tomatoes. The salad was invented in the early 1950’s at one of the first Balkan tourist hotels on the Black Sea. This salad is well known all throughout the Balkans. Shopska consists of fresh summer vegetables (although, we make this salad year-round) and is coated in finely grated Bulgarian white brine cheese, called Sirene. Sirene is comparable to feta, so you can absolutely use feta as well (non-traditional but delicious). The vegetables are usually finely diced and salted but you can prepare them according to your preference, like I did. Made from sheep’s milk, Sirene is a touch saltier than Greek feta and has a creamier texture, with a hint of yogurt overtones. Bulgarian white cheese is often used in traditional pastry dishes, such as Banitsa (Tiropita). Bulgarian salads have a reputation as being some of the tastiest in the world. Three of our national salads were voted #1, #6, and #7 on the top charts of international salads in 2022. If you want a direct link to the history of Shopska salad please click here to read Shopska salad.Shopska salad (salata) was recently voted as the #1 salad in the world by the International Salad League.
Shopska Salad (Worlds Best Salad)
This salad consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, raw or roasted peppers, parsley, onion, oil, salt, and a finely grated Bulgarian white brine cheese called Sirene. Sirene is comparable to feta, so you can absolute use feta as well (non-traditional but delicious).
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced (preferably heirloom tomatoes)
- ½ cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 sweet green pepper, sliced or diced (Cubanelle or Shephard)
- 1 red pepper, raw or roasted (or both), sliced (see roasting directions in notes below)
- ½ small yellow onion, diced or sliced
- salt to taste
- drizzle of any oil you like, to taste (we use olive oil)
- small handful of finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- finely grated Bulgarian white cheese or feta measure with your heart
- In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, red pepper(s), and onion and season to taste with salt and oil. Toss well. Add some chopped parsley, if using (my mom doesn't like it as much, so I left it out).
- Note: you can find any good-quality brined white cheese or feta at any European deli or grocery store, behind the deli counter. Always buy it in a big fresh block or in brine. You can also ask the person behind the deli counter to give you a small sample. Please do not buy anything pre-crumbled. Costco has tubs of fresh feta if you're looking for other alternatives. You can use any white cheese sold in brine, or feta, that you love most.
- Grate the cheese on top of the salad and measure with your heart.
- Add an extra drizzle of oil on top and enjoy!
You can find any good-quality white cheese or feta at any European deli or grocery store behind the deli counter. Always buy it in a big fresh block or in brine. You can also ask the person behind the deli counter to give you a small sample. Please do not buy any pre-crumbled cheese. Costco has tubs of fresh feta, if you're looking for other alternatives. You can use any white cheese sold in brine, or feta, that you love most. Bulgarian white cheese is a feta variation known in Bulgaria and other Balkan countries as “Sirene”. Made from sheep’s milk, Sirene is a touch saltier than Greek feta and has a creamier texture, with a hint of yogurt overtones. Click on this link Bulgarian white cheese in brine to see what Bulgarian white cheese looks like, but feel free to use feta as it's similar in taste/texture. You can add raw or roasted bell peppers to this salad. I added both. To make roasted bell peppers: Place the pepper(s) on an oven-safe dish and bake at 425F until charred. Once cool enough to handle, remove and discard the peel, stem, and seeds, and cut the pepper into slices. Alternatively, you can used jarred roasted bell peppers. Feel free to chop the veggies to preference like we do. Here's how I like to chop each veggie: For the tomatoes, cut each tomato in half, those halves in half, and those halves in half again. Chop across each piece as big/small as you prefer. For the cucumber, you can leave the skin on, but we like to peel it. Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and then each half again lengthwise. You should now have four long quarters. Cut across at half-inch intervals to dice into equal pieces. For the sweet green pepper, cut it into small thin circles or half circles. Traditionally we like to remove the core/seeds, slice it into thin sliced and chop across making a fine dice. You can use any mild oil or olive oil. Olive oil is not traditional but we love it. If you don't like parsley, just leave it out.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!