While piragi bring back some of the strongest memories of childhood for me, of all things it’s a Latvian salad that reminds me most of summertime.
Growing up in the 80s, just like most Aussie kids I hadn’t really been exposed to many herbs in our everyday living. Come Christmas time though all that was turned on its head as we were served the heavy, pungent rye bread for which Latvia is renowned, the smoked eel, the fishy, oily rollmops and the ever present and sharply flavoured carroway seeds within all manner of baked goods.
Amongst all these oddities though was one dish that I fast grew to appreciate. I call it the Latvian salad, yet I honestly have no idea if its the correct name or not! Regardless, every year at Christmas time my grandmother would fill her massive crystal bowl full of this incredible mixture of lettuce, sour cream and, of all things, dill!
It’s the dill that really makes this dish, bringing sharp little spikes of herby goodness to every creamy and crunchy mouthful. Never overpowering, yet constantly reminding you that this is a salad with a difference!
While the tyranny of distance has meant that family Christmas’ are few and far between, every year we make this salad not only because it tastes great, but also in memory of absent family. Whether it’s with a platter of prawns, a baked goose or a sizzling pork roast, this salad is versatile and can be eaten with pretty much anything, and all the better if it’s a hot summer’s day!
Give it a shot, I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do!
Latvian Salad (serves 4-6)
1 iceberg lettuce
1 bunch of dill
1 bunch of chives (don’t go overboard with the chives…less is more)
5 table spoons of light sour cream
3 heaped tea spoons of mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 pinch of salt
It’s pretty simple really. Wash and roughly chop the lettuce and place in a large mixing bowl (not so large that you can’t fit it in your mouth, and not so small that it loses it’s crunch).
Roughly chop the dill and add to the bowl.
Finely chop the chives and add to the bowl.
Sprinkle the salt over the greens.
Toss the ingredients to mix well.
Add the sour cream, mayonnaise and juice to the greens and again mix thoroughly.