“Salatka” is just the Polish word for “salad”. I assume (not actually being Polish myself) that there are hundreds of salads available in Poland, many of which go by this name. This particular version of salatka is not at all like a traditional green salad, or even a horrific pasta salad. Instead, it is a cottage cheese-based mixture that one spreads on good thick rye bread, and eats carefully so as to avoid a melange of splodges on the tablecloth. As strange as it may sound, it’s an excellent way to start a large Polish dinner. Salatka, pierogi, multiple kinds of kielbasa handmade in Hamtramck, pickled beets, beer, and sweet nalesniki: fabulous.

This requires no cooking whatever: fortunate if you are simultaneously trying to make homemade pierogi. It’s a perfect job for a kid helper (albeit one old enough to handle knives) at a big family dinner.

This will make two servings; feel free to double or whatever.

You need:

Empty the cottage cheese into a mixing bowl. Add the sour cream and stir to mix thoroughly.

Wash the radishes, top and tail them, and slice them in half. Place them cut side down and slice into half-moons. Add them to the cottage cheese mixture, with a dash or two of salt, and stir again.

Take a taste and see how you like it. You can easily shift the proportions by adding more of any ingredient. I like these proportions myself, but do what makes your tongue happy.

To serve, spread thickly on rye or pumpernickel toast, buttered or unbuttered according to preference. Make sure to toast your bread, though; hot, crisp, golden, grain-scented toast really provides a great contrast to the sour taste and creamy texture of the cold cottage cheese.

One of my college friends, a second generation Hungarian immigrant, liked to add chopped green onions to her salatka. Another friend, the second generation Polish immigrant from whom I learned this recipe, threw up her hands in disgust and denounced her concoction with a ringing “that’s not salatka!” I am inclined to go for the authentic taste, myself.

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