Bulgarian food seems to be pretty generic Mediterranean food, so when I found a couple of recipes in the Barbecue Bible that were supposed to be pretty stereotypically and even uniquely Bulgarian, I jumped at them. It helped that they were simple. One was a tomato and feta salad. It was pretty delicious, but I would say that lessons were learned. Kenny, who gave me the Barbecue Bible, loves to grill (I say he's a master, he says he's a hack) so we decided to grill as much as possible. Afterward, we decided that grilling the tomatoes had been a mistake (it compromised their structural integrity more than I would say is ideal), but if I do it again I should grill the onions too. I used the Greek-style feta in brine from Trader Joe's and oh my goodness was it good. Creamy, just like I remember it being in Athens (although I'm pretty sure Molly will say that marinating it in oil is the only way to go). We also made kufteh, or Bulgarian meatballs. Only the Bulgarian way is to make them more like burgers, but we ate them plain. Kenny liked them much more than I did; he was thrilled to take the leftovers home. All in all, a solid meal, but maybe not stuff I'd make again.
Tomato salad with feta (Shopska Salata)
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 medium-sized green bell pepper, cored and seeded
1-2 spring onions, both white and green parts (I used scallions sliced thin)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
3 oz feta cheese, drained
Core the tomatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Cut the pepper and onion into 1/4 inch dice. Combine the tomatoes, pepper, and onion in a serving bowl with the parsley, oil, and vinegar and toss gently but thoroughly to mix. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and black pepper and more vinegar as necessary; the salad should be highly seasoned. Crumble the feta cheese on top and serve at once.
Bulgarian Burgers (Kufteh)
8 oz ground veal
8 oz ground pork
1 small onion, minced
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp salt, or more to taste
generous 1/2 tsp ground cumin, or more to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, or more to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with a wooden spoon or your hands. The mixture should be highly seasoned. Divide into four equal portions. Lightly wet your hands with cold water, then form each into a patty 3 inches across and about 3/4 inch thick. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grate. Arrange the burgers on the hot grate and grill, turning with a spatula, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Serve at once with crusty bread.