Reflections on a winter slaw

This week, in The Seasons series, we are featuring Alexandra Stratou, the author of Cooking to Share, a cookbook that celebrates uncompromised tradition, cooking and life through Greek kitchen recipes. Today, Alexandra shares a colorful winter salad that will accompany you for a few days.

Hi, I am Alexandra Stratou, author of Cooking to Share and I am writing to you from Athens, Greece. I am both a cookbook author and a freelance cook. I love finding opportunities to bring people together over a plate of good food but I am also a teacher of the Feldenkrais Method, movement education classes, that teach people how to find the best possible way of inhabiting the body they have. These two things connect in my eyes as they are both human-centric; after all whether it is enabling relationships between humans or enabling one’s relationship to oneself, human relationship is what inspires me!

This New Year’s eve a few seconds before the clock struck 12 I was in the kitchen loading the dishwasher. I had invited people over for dinner, lots of people. They were all gathered in the living room, apart from one of the guests who had strayed to help me, and were bidding the last 10 seconds of 2015 farewell. I arrived on scene at second 3 and then there was a sudden flood of embraces and heartfelt wishes for the year to come. It was somewhat strange though because whenever someone came to shower me with wishes I just stared at them, no words to respond with. I just didn’t feel any different from a few moments ago. What was on my mind was to get back in the kitchen to finish loading the dishwasher. I came to a rapid conclusion that this year I was just unmoved by the whole changing of the year thing.

I am now writing to you from week 3 of 2016 and my New Year conclusion has been disproven. I have clearly been affected by the changing of the year. I have made yearly plans and goals. I have put my intention where I want it to be. I have attempted some simple life changes like a daily wake up time, like setting a weekly program for myself, etc. But this was a process in the making. Just as trees prepare to bud for a while and we only see the bud when it is ready to come out into the world. I had been preparing for this transition.

Life is made up of continuous subtle movement and is interspersed with sporadic moments where movement piles up on movement and becomes noticeable. That is when we can actually identify change, but in reality we have been changing all along!

This salad survived 2015 and accompanied me into 2016 with the same (un)emotion. I made it for NY Eve dinner, made too much of it and ate it for a few days after. I threw away the final serving when it got too soggy to eat, and that was its life. It was an appropriate reminder that New Years, new beginnings, births are not a one moment to the next type of thing but rather a process that begins in the past, is carried into the present and shapes what your future becomes.




Serves 4
Time: Under 1 hour

150g butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1cmx1cm pieces
2 teaspooons smoked paprika
2 tbsp of olive oil
sea salt rocks

300g of purple cabbage, thinly shredded
200g white cabbage, thinly shredded
1 large tart red apple or green apple, julienne
juice of half a lemon
70g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughly

125ml olive oil
2 tablespoons petimezi (grape-must syrup)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
50ml apple cider vinegar

Preheat your oven to 190°C. Place the diced squash in a bowl and add the olive oil, the smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper. Toss well with a spoon to ensure the seasoning coats each piece evenly. Place on an oven tray and roast for 20 minutes or until the edges of the pieces start to char slightly. The pieces need to be firm and not mushy. Set aside on a plate to cool.

In the meantime, using a mandolin or cutting with a knife shave the red and white cabbage. Place them in your preferred salad bowl. Then wash the apple and using a mandolin on the thin julienne setting, or with a knife, chop into julienne/very thin sticks. Place the apple in a small bowl, add the lemon juice, cover with a piece of baking paper to avoid it browning too much and set aside in the fridge. Toast the hazelnuts in a small frying pan until they take on a dark brown colour, chop and add to the cabbage.

Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, petimezi, apple cider vinegar and mustard in a jar. Shake well until the mixture becomes homogeneous. Set aside.

Once the squash is roasted and cooled, add to the salad along with the dressing and the apple. Mix well and allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.

**The amazing thing about this salad is that the more it sits in the dressing the better it tastes, so if you are making it for yourself, you can make a large batch and eat it for a few days after – just like I did.

Thank you Alexandra for sharing your thoughts and this colorful salad recipe!

You may follow Alexandra on facebook and instagram.
Words and photos by Alexandra Stratou.
Top photo by Secret Caravan.

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