by Rosa Mayland
This year, unlike all preceding years, I decided that I’d serve a Swiss menu for our National Day as I believe there is no better way to feel close to your roots than by cooking the foods that are a part of your identity. I also had the urge to share a traditional and summery Swiss recipe with you.
The date marks the death of the first German Emperor from the house of the Hapsburgs, the independence of Switzerland from the Austrian rulers, the alliance of the rural communes Schwytz, Uri and Unterwalden (central Alps) with a view to protecting themselves from outside attackers or anyone attempting to subject them, and the creation of the Federal Charter of 1291, a pact which ensured free trade and peace on the important mountain merchant routes.
Our Fête Nationale Suisse, as we call it in French — or Schweizer Bundesfeier in German, or Fiesta Nazionale Svizzera in Italian, or Fasta Naziunala Svizra in Romansch — takes place on the 1st of August. It is a fun, relaxing day, yet solemn, during which you’ll find no flamboyant parades, pompous speeches nor individuals going berserkers. Everything is kept incredibly simple, well-organized and humble, exactly like the native inhabitants of this unique land. Each municipality and locality is embellished with old-style patriotic decorations (cantonal flags) and organizes small celebrations where all kinds of activities take place: convivial feasting, austere elocutions addressed by politicians at all levels (from Federal councillors to the heads of communes), cheerful music (both popular/folk and modern, not forgetting the incontrovertible national anthem), joyful firework displays (both private and communal) and impressive bonfires (the news of the expulsion of foreign bailiffs in the 14th century and in old times, and information, in general, were spread in this manner). Then, on a larger scale, in Schaffhausen the 25-meter high Rhine Falls are illuminated, on the Rütli meadow (on Lake Lucern in Uri), the legendary oath (Rütlischwur) is re-enacted in order to commemorate the Old Swiss Confederacy, and a radio as well as television broadcast by the President of the Swiss Confederation is aired.
Besides this quite serious “entertainment”, for most people the 1st of August festivities are not much different than a picnic in the countryside, barbecues in the garden, or brunches on the farm that bring together producers and consumers (a new tradition – some 450 farms across the land serve up Swiss-style breakfasts banquets using terroir products). On this occasion, it is not rare to see friends and family gather around a homey meal made up of fresh bread (Zopf, braided bread, or cross-shaped milk rolls called Augustweggen), a vast array of grilled sausages (Cervelas, Schüblig, Kalbswurst, etc.), cheese (au naturel and sliced or melted in the form of raclette or fondue), rösti, dried meats, colourful hard-boiled eggs, homemade jams, Birchermüsli, salads (Cervelas salad, lettuce, tomato & mozzarella, etc.) or any dish that reminds us of the colors of our national emblem, the red and white flag.
I am quite keen on sharing recipes from my rich cultural heritage, so today, I chose to talk about a Swiss speciality which we treasure for the memories (lunch at the mountain shack, school trips, 1st of August, military service, village or agricultural fairs, family reunions, etc.) so closely associated to it. This peasant-style dish is known under the name of “Cervelas Salad”.
The main ingredients are Cervelas, a cooked as well as smoked sausage made of pork rind, beef, bacon and zebu intestines (read a fun fact about the nation’s battle to save this piece of our patrimony) and Gruyère (or Emmentaler or Appenzell) cheese, to which radishes, eggs (sometimes), potatoes (not always), green or regular onions, chives and a vinaigrette/French dressing are added. There is not one fixed recipe for it; there are as many variations as there are regions and villages (learn more about that here), and of course it depends on the cook who prepares it. Even the way the different ingredients are cut varies from one chef to another.
Cervelas Salad might not be the most refined gastronomic salad on earth, but if it’s made with quality ingredients it can be a real homey kind of “delicacy” and utterly unforgettable. And of course, it is possible to personalize it and make it a little more gourmet, as well as give it a stylish twist. As a matter of fact, one can improvise quite a lot around the basic recipe and that’s exactly what I did.
Instead of only using Cervelas, I also used a St. Galler Schüblig sausage. For more taste, I opted for aged Gruyère cheese and the addition of fresh garlic. I wanted it to be not excessively complex, and I didn’t want to spoil the gorgeous flavor of both the meat and the cheese, therefore I refused to add too many ingredients. And, as this salad is nutritious and rich in strong aromas, incorporating a mayonnaise-based salad sauce was a big no-no, so vinaigrette was a wise choice.
My Swiss Sausage Salad tastes marvelous and is lipsmackingly good, pleasantly aromatic, refined and well-balanced; the flavors mingle together incredibly well. Apart from being mouthwatering, it is also colorful, pretty to look at and can be plated beautifully. An extraordinary main course.
Bon Appétit! En Guete! Buon Appetito ! Bun Appetit!
Swiss Sausage Salad
Serves 2-3 people
Click here for metric recipe converter
Ingredients for the salad:
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 medium-size red onion, sliced into thin rings
10-12 red radishes, sliced into thin rounds
280g Gruyère (aged), cut into matchsticks
1 (200g) Schüblig (raw), sliced into 1/2 moons
1 (100g) Cervelas (raw), sliced into 1/2 moons
1/2 bunch fresh flat (Italian) parsley (or to taste), chopped
Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
1 Tsp mild mustard
2 Tbs malt vinegar
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
5 Tbs virgin olive oil
1/3 Tsp Turkish chilli flakes
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions for the salad:
In a medium big bowl, mix all the ingredients for the salad together.
Directions for the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients for the vinaigrette together.
Add them to the salad and mix delicately.
If you can’t find Schüblig and Cervelas sausages, you can replace them with 300g of Mortadella, cut into thickish slices or chunks, 300g of raw frankfurters, Kielbasa or Vienna sausages.
You can also use Espelette pepper flakes or any other semi-hot chili flakes in place of the Turkish chilli flakes.
The malt vinegar and white Balsamic vinegar can be replaced by regular white wine vinegar.
Serve this salad at room temperature (the cheese and meat should not be cold) and accompany with bread, boiled potatoes or macaroni.
Click here for more pictures and the French version of this recipe.
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