Simple Greek Salad

So I mentioned before that I’ve bought a new cookbook (that I’ll be writing a review on later) in honor of our trip to Greece, it’s called “Vefa’s Kitchen” by Vefa Alexiadou and it’s so  large I had a hard time choosing where to begin! I wanted to go with something simple and decided that the traditional style Greek Salad was just about the most quintessential Greek dish I could make straight off.  This type of salad was on every menu, at every restaurant we visited in Greece just about.  I tweaked the recipe for us since we don’t like cucumber as much as some and vinegar more than others and I made a large bowl because….leftovers of course! Why else?

Simple, fresh ingredients, prepared with not too much fuss make many Greek dishes easy to make at home.  Another plus is that many studies (like the one discussed in this NY Times article) have shown that following a balanced, Mediterranean diet (including wine!) can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease (which leads to heart attacks and strokes).  Double win!

Anyway, let’s get to the recipe!  You’ll need a sharp knife, cutting mat, a large storage bowl and a glass container with a lid for the dressing. I say a glass container because the dressing will be sitting in between uses and the vinegar would react with both metal and plastic giving the dressing an “off” taste. I use a glass spaghetti jar.

Ingredients: (makes 8-10 servings)

  • 6-8 good tomatoes, (tomatoes really are worth buying organic, or even better, homegrown – I use either Heirloom or Roma varieties usually.)
  • 1 medium red onion – sliced thinly, then cut in half again
  • 1/2-1 hothouse English Cucumber (the skinny kind usually in a plastic wrapper), peeled, halved and cut into semi-circles
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers, cored and sliced into bite size pieces
  • 10 oz of pitted kalamata olives (pour out brine)
  • 12 oz brick of feta (the fresh kind floating in the water)
  • oregano for garnish
  • good olive oil for drizzling

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup aged red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3-4 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ground pepper to taste

(pour all ingredients into a glass container with a lid, shake vigorously to combine. Will need to shake a bit each time before use as the oil and vinegar will separate. Will sit, unrefrigerated, for up to 1 week)

Since I like vinegar and vinegary foods, I usually add a splash more vinegar to just cover the bottom of the bowl and then I chop and add the red onion first, so it sits in the vinegar most and soaks it in.  Next goes in everything else in the top list through the olives.The salad and dressing are best made at least 4 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to meld. I usually let the vegetables sit overnight in the fridge so that the onion has time to breathe and soak up some vinegar.

 To serve: mix thoroughly and portion into a salad bowl. Pour over desired amount of dressing (about 2 TBS) and desired slice of feta, crumbled, on top. Garnish with ground pepper and dried oregano to taste, drizzled with fresh olive oil (about 1/2 – 1 TBS).

This recipe has become an almost daily part of our meals lately.  I like it because it’s full of good vegetables and a vinegar dressing that I love. Daniel likes it because it is a salad that doesn’t contain lettuce! The full recipe takes about 30 minutes to prepare and it lasts for 4-5 days in the fridge as leftovers.

I hope you enjoy!

 

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