“Syglino” is a cured, smoked pork meat from the region of Mani. The meat is first cured, then cooked in an aromatic liquid flavored with orange peel, and afterwards smoked with sage. It is preserved in pork fat. You can use an Italian “coppa” ham or a “porchetta” instead. “Sfela” is a PDO (protected designation of origin) brine cheese produced in Messinia and Laconia that resembles feta but is denser and saltier. The milk used for its production comes exclusively from herds of sheep and goats traditionally raised and adapted to the particular region, whose diet is based on local plants. Given that it may be challenging to find, you could substitute with Cypriot “halloumi” instead. You can also replace the dried figs with pitted Kalamata olives or a tablespoon of capers.
Serves: 2 as a main dish with some simple crostini/4 as a side – Preparation time: 30 minutes (including boiling the potatoes)
For the salad:
- 4 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 big orange
- 1 medium-sized red onion
- 3.5 oz (100 g) “syglino” cured pork
- 3.5 oz (100 g) “sfela” cheese
- 5-6 dried figs
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) finely chopped parsley
- salt & pepper
For the dressing:
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) red-wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Prep the potatoes:
Scrub the potatoes with a clean produce brush to remove any dirt, then rinse. Remove any sprouts and any green areas with the tip of a potato peeler. If desired, you can peel them now, before boiling.
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot. Add enough cold water to cover them. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon salt to the water. Turn the burner on high and bring water to boiling. Reduce heat to medium low or low. Cover the pan with a lid. Cook the potatoes in gently boiling water until tender (about 15-17 minutes).
Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool down. To cube, slice them to the desired thickness, then stack several slices and cut crosswise several times in both directions—don’t forget to peel them first if you didn’t do so before boiling.
Segment the orange:
Cut the top and bottom of the orange. Lay it on a flat surface so it doesn’t tip over.
Working from top to bottom, peel the peel and pith, deep enough to remove the thin membrane and expose the flesh of the orange. Clean up any remaining membrane or pith.
Hold the orange in your hand. With a sharp thin knife, carefully cut between a segment and the membrane. Don’t cut all the way through—just to the center. Give it a little twist and peel the segment away from the other connective membrane. Be gentle and watch your fingers!
Repeat, working your way around the orange. The first segment is always the most difficult, but it gets easier as you go. This works best with a fresh juicy orange. If you cut into an orange and notice it is dry, it will likely fall apart while segmenting.
Cube the potatoes, onion, syglino, sfela cheese, and dried figs.
Place potatoes, orange segments, onion, pork, cheese and figs in a large salad bowl. Toss and mix. Season with salt & pepper. (Be careful of how much salt you use, as the cured pork and sfela or hallumi can be quite salty.) Sprinkle the finely chopped parsley on top.
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and pour the mixture over the salad.
Toss gently again until the salad and dressing are well combined.