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Greek Salad

Greek Salad

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I have been making this Greek Salad or a version of it my entire adult life.  I have never thought to share it over here, as it is one of those recipes that I tend to make by muscle memory.  I grab this and that, and basically toss it into a bowl.  Last week I attended my god-daughter’s graduation dinner, and her aunt Sydney shared a food memory with me.  I always love hearing other people’s food memories as much I love reliving mine by recreating at home.  What I didn’t expect was to be part of her memory, and that it was for this Greek Salad.  A recipe that I probably take for granted. 

Greek Salad

At first I wasn’t sure which one she was talking about until she mentioned the fresh herbs and especially mint, that there was lots of mint.  I could tell from the smile when she spoke of it as well as the sparkle in her eye that she loved this recipe.  As soon as she mentioned the summers we spent at Lake Tahoe together, I knew it was this Greek Salad recipe.  I use to make it all the time.  Something I completely took for granted all these years, thinking that most people would not care about making, had left a lasting impression on someone else.  One of the funny things about food blogging is that we get wrapped up in making trendy food that is popular recipes instead of sharing ones that people will make over and over again, like we do at home. I felt completely honored, my every day Greek Salad recipe was  Sydney’s food memory. 

This week I decided to buy all the ingredients, and take my time making it for Sydney.  I noted down the tastes, the measurements of what worked and what didn’t work, instead of just tossing everything into a bowl.  It made me smile, as well as slow down a bit.  Those bright fresh flavors took me back to those lazy summer days by the lake with the kids as well.  Gosh, I miss time, and those days.  All of the kids are grown up now, as the adults stay the same age reliving those memories.  I hope this recipe gets passed down to her children after she makes this Greek Salad for them, saying it is the one Miss Denise use to make for us in Lake Tahoe when you were small, and maybe they will make for their families and pass it down.  Thank you, Sydney for provoking me to take my time with a recipe and relive a lovely moment in time.  I am more than happy to share it with you, and hope you enjoy often.

A few tips to make your Greek Salad as bright as my recipe:

  • Lemon Juice, you have to use fresh squeezed lemon juice.  I learned this from a Greek friend in my 20s, he said it was key to the perfect salad dressing in Greece and his home.
  • Red Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil, I do not go cheap on my vinegars or the olive oil I use in salads.  Splurge on them a bit.  Vinegar lasts awhile, and a robust flavorful olive oil makes a huge difference in your dressings.  For Vinegar I buy red as well as white that is made by Castello di Volpaia.  There are a couple olive oils I really like, this one from Flamingo Estates, it is a bit of a splurge (I was gifted a bottle), but so good as well as memorable.  This one from Cobram Estate in California, is reasonably priced and the one I usually buy.  
  • Dried Herbs work better with this salad dressing. I am all about fresh herbs all the time but not with this dressing.  I love this company which happens to be out of Greece.  Luckily you can find their herbs in the states now.  If you order online from them the shipping is very fast as well as reasonable if you stock up on a few of the items.  I find their dried herbs last a long time as they are so fresh and flavorful.  I have had the oregano for almost two years now.  The one I used in this salad is the Taygetus oregano, I find it pairs really well with the feta. 
  • Feta use the one that comes in brine as it is fresher and more flavorful than the crumbles you find in the cheese section of the grocery store.  The crumbles tend to have the texture of saw dust and are treated with chemicals that help keep them separated.  The brined version is so much better.  I like Belfiore Cheese as it is easy to find in most grocery stores.  
  • Protein can make this salad a meal.  If I have leftover grilled chicken or fish (salmon and trout are great) I add it to the salad.  Also roasted chickpeas are a great addition if you want crunch and veggie protein.  

Hope you enjoy this Geek Salad as much as we do.  Here’s to hot summer days enjoying crisp and flavorful salads.  

 

Yield: 2 - 4

Greek Salad

This Greek Salad can be served on it's own as a heart meal for two or as a side dish for four. It is made with fresh flavors of lemon, mint, oregano and creamy feta. Perfect served with grilled fish or chicken.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 3 grams garlic - after peeling, finely crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram 
  • generous grind or two of fresh black pepper
  • Salad:
  • 2 ounces sliced red onions
  • 12 ounces romaine, torn or chopped
  • 6 ounces Persian cucumber, sliced into small bite sized pieces
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, half the tomatoes and then half again into bite sized pieces
  • 2.5 ounces pitted Kalamata olives 
  • 2.5 ounces pepperoncini, thinly sliced 
  • 6 sprigs fresh oregano - leaves only
  • 1 ounce fresh mint - leaves only
  • 3 ounces feta - brined is the best - crumble with your hands

Instructions

    Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar, tighten the lid and shake to combine.  Set aside for at least 30 - 60 minutes before using as this softens the dried herbs and enhances the flavors.

    Thirty minutes before serving, place the red onions into a bowl of ice cold water and let sit.  This removes the bitterness, and softens the taste of the onion a bit.  Before using, drain and dry in a paper towel. 

    Place the lettuce,  half of the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, pepperoncini, oregano and mint into a large bowl.  Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad and toss.  I find using my hands for this really works the best to mix the ingredients..

    Top the mixture with the remaining ingredients that were mixed in, along with the red onion and feta cheese.  Sprinkle with fresh pepper, and drizzle the remaining of the dressing over the top.

    Serve.

    Eat. 

Notes

I do not salt my salads when I am adding ingredients that can be a bit "salty" such as olives and cheese. If you feel like it needs salt then use a finishing salt such as Maldon.

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