Cabbage is associated with winter in Greece. “You can’t have tender, sweet cabbage before the winter cold,” a farmer in Kea told me one October morning. The trick to turn almost any cabbage into a good salad is to “knead” the finely shredded leaves with salt and lemon juice. Here, instead of lemon a combination of orange and white ‘balsamic; vinegar is used. The cabbage and carrots wilt and shrink, becoming juicy and delicious.
I tasted this salad recently at Ourania’s Tavern, on Samos island and was fascinated. Ourania, the owner and cook, told us that the longer you leave the salad in the fridge, the better it gets, and she was right.
4 to 6 servings
4 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 1/3 medium cabbage)
freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt 3–4 small dill pickles (about 2 inches long), halved
lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and steamed or boiled in salted water until
tender, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 1 bunch arugula, trimmed and finely chopped
finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 3 sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 watercress sprigs
4–5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or
crushed red pepper flakes A few Kalamata olivesIn a large bowl, combine the cabbage,
lemon juice and salt to taste and rub and squeeze the cabbage with your hands until reduced in volume by half.
(The salad can be prepared up to this point 3 to 4 hours in advance, covered and refrigerated.)
In a serving bowl,
combine the cabbage, pickles, all but 2 tablespoons of the carrots, the arugula, parsley, cilantro and watercress.
Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle with pepper and toss. Taste to adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice if
needed. Garnish with the reserved carrots, the parsley sprigs and olives and serve.