Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Greek Salad

One of the few salads that did have some lettuce - but not much!
The final recipe from my class on Greek food...this one is very easy, full of delicious and healthy things, and very Greek. Rather than consult my extensive cookbook collection on Greek Salad, I talked to my friend Lynn who spent her spring vacation hiking around Greece and exploring ancient ruins. Of course, she had to eat too! She told me that she ate many Greek Salads during her stay and didn't see any lettuce in most of them. OK, skip the lettuce! This makes sense because lettuce is not in season when tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are in season. The dressing is also simple: a lemon vinaigrette made with olive oil. Because what else would you use in Greece, birthplace of olive culture? As far back as 3,000 years ago, olives were a commercial product in Greece, specifically Crete.

Greek Salad
(serves 4)

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into thick slices
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
1 large green pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
½ medium red onion, sliced thinly
4 oz. feta cheese, preferably sheep milk
tasty black olives such as Kalamata
dried oregano crushed between your fingers

1 - 2 cloves garlic, smashed
a healthy pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, the best you can afford

Toss together the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl. Mash the garlic cloves with the salt until you have a paste of garlic. Press your knife blade while pulling it across the garlic-salt to make the paste. At first, it will be chunky but the abrasive nature of the salt will help to break down the garlic. Place the garlic paste in a medium bowl. Add in the lemon juice and olive oil. Whisk to combine. Drizzle over the vegetables and toss again. Taste for salt, adding more if needed. The feta and olives are quite salty, so don't over-season the veggies.

To serve, arrange ¼ of the vegetables on a plate. Garnish with slices or chunks of feta cheese and olives. Sprinkle lightly with a pinch of dried oregano.

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