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Wurstsalat is a German dish, characterized by its tart taste and the use of sausage. It is most common in the southern region of Germany, although it appears throughout the country and in other European cultures. There are as many variations to wurstsalat as there are individual palates. The use of differently spiced sausages, the inclusion of gherkins or pickles, and other ingredients allow for creativity and customization of this traditional German cuisine. The primary ingredients common to all types of tart sausage salad, however, are vinegar, sausage, and onions.
A typical sausage salad calls for little to no cooking. Since the sausages used are typically of the cold cut variety, most recipes simply require mixing or tossing salad ingredients and spices. Sausage, vinegar, and onions may be marinated first or tossed immediately with pickles, paprika, oil, and other seasonings. A few variations suggest adding shredded cheese to the mix, while others suggest additional vegetables such as cabbage.
Types of sausage used include Lyoner or fleischwurst, both salted pork sausages similar to bologna. Additional sausages include bierwurst, blutwurst, and Regensburger, to name a few. In short, any sausage suitable for slicing and serving cold may be used in wurstsalat, with regional favorites giving name to specific recipes. Bavarian wurstsalat, for example, uses Regensburger, as this sausage is a popular cold cut in Bavarian regions. Swiss variations, on the other hand, uses any cold cut sausage, but features the addition of favorite Swiss cheeses.
The specific methods for making wurstsalat and the additional ingredients used not only vary by region but by personal preference as well. Some recipes call for marinating the sausage with spices and onions in the refrigerator overnight, with final preparation and mixing of other ingredients finished just prior to the meal. Other recipes call for sauteing onions, adding gherkins, or using additional spices and condiments. Most wurstsalat recipes are vinegar based, although some regions prefer a mayonnaise base for sausage salads. Regardless of region, virtually all types of salads classified as wurstsalat call for serving the salad cold or chilled.
German households, like many European cultures, typically serve heavier midday or lunch meals, with lighter offerings for dinner or late day meals. Accordingly, German customs and common eating practices feature wurstsalat as a side dish to meats for lunch or as a stand alone dish for lighter dinner meals. Serving wurstsalat with bratwurst or other cooked meats is common, both as a luncheon meal or in smaller portions as a light dinner choice. In fact, many German households make a large batch of wurstsalat for lunch, with the intention of having the leftovers for dinner later in the day.