Since I am always in search of healthy and nutritious food options, salads often rise to the top of my charts. Of the many salad choices there are, I believe the traditional salad style served in Greece is an excellent choice. By the way, if you happen to be in Greece, do not order a “Greek salad!” Ask for “horiatiki!”
A classic Greek salad includes tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell pepper, onion, feta cheese and olives, and seasonings are salt, oregano and olive oil. If you wish to “Americanize” your version of the salad, you might choose to add some form of lettuce; however, lettuce is not part of the original horiatiki!
As with most healthy dishes, fresh ingredients are a key foundation. Therefore, it is important to select yours with care.
The tomatoes must be ripe and flavorful. You can have fun trying this recipe with any variety of tomato, from cherry, grape, Campari, Roma, vine-ripe, or even heirloom tomatoes. Try different versions and see what you think tastes best!
What’s called English cucumber in the US work best as they have a soft skin and soft seeds that don’t need to be removed. Nonetheless, to save on cost consider using regular cucumbers by peeling them and removing hard seeds. Persian cucumbers are also wonderful (smaller in size and full of flavor), but depending on what your market carries, they may be difficult to find.
I always prefer red onion for eating raw because it is milder and sweeter. On the other hand, this is all about personal taste so if you like white or yellow onions they are good too.
Traditionally green is used. Others can be used for added color and since green, yellow, orange and red bell peppers are on a spectrum of taste, you may prefer one (or more) over green alone. Moreover, the different colored bell peppers have different nutrient profiles (http://thescienceexplorer.com/nature/do-you-know-real-difference-between-red-and-green-peppers)
Kalamata olives from a jar are the traditional olive used in Greece. Having said that, you may be a big fan of black olives or green olives… So use the olives that your heart desires…. as long as they are pitted. Crunching down on an olive with a pit can be a tooth shattering experience!
The preferred cheese for this salad is sheep feta or feta from a mix of sheep and goat milk, as this is the way it’s made in Greece. If you are not a feta enthusiast, consider fresh mozzarella , but I do not recommend many other choices.
If you have different bottles of olive oil, use the best tasting one you have. Its flavor will really shine through. My favorite multi-purpose olive oil is Partanna Sicilian olive oil
How to serve this Greek salad
Serve immediately (the idea is FRESH) or refrigerate up to 3 days. However, Greek salad is not really meant to be stored.
This dish can be a meal on its own, especially when paired with a slice of good crusty bread to wipe the juices. And maybe some dry red wine as they would do in Greece… Alternatively, you may serve this in a smaller portion as a side dish.
Kali orexi! (Bon appetit!)
Other recipes you might like:
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes Campari tomatoes or any other ripe tomato
- 1/2 English cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
- 4 oz feta cheese cut in 4 slices
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tsp dried oregano plus a pinch
- 1 pinch kosher salt to taste
- Cut cherry tomatoes in half. If using larger tomatoes, cut them into bite-size pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Cut cucumber in half lengthwise and slice into bite-size pieces. Add to the bowl.
- Core bell pepper and slice thin. Slice the onion thin. Add to the bowl.
- Add olives. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tsp oregano.
- Drizzle with vinegar and 2 tbsp olive oil. Toss briefly.
- Top with sliced feta cheese. Drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top and sprinkle with an extra pinch of oregano.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days.