The Greek salad is the quintessential Greek lunch enjoyed sitting in the sun at gingham laid tables overlooking the turquoise waters of the warm Mediterranean Sea. It evokes the senses: pleasant memories of warm sunshine, fresh herbs, tasty tomatoes and cheeky but handsome waiters.
Greek food is renowned for its simplicity, and the authentic Greek salad is no exception. It is simple to prepare, using simple fresh ingredients. But how can you recreate the authentic Greek salad when you are back home? It’s worth doing, because this simple dish is tasty, healthy, and evokes those memories of vacations by the sea. But it’s important to get it right.
So let’s do it!
To be as authentic as possible, it is important to try and use the freshest, tastiest ingredients just like the Greeks would do. The problem is, many of the ingredients we have available are forced-grown, and often inorganically grown. This affects the quality and also the taste. Many restaurant owners in the resorts in Greece are farmers too (or their cousin Kostas is.) The ingredients they use would often be picked that day from their own farms, organically grown and nurtured by Nature.
The best we can do in our home country, is try and get fresh local ingredients from local shops who advertise local produce, or genuine farmers’ markets — or grow our own! However, the one thing we must accept is that the prime ingredient, Feta cheese, must come from Greece itself — because if it doesn’t, it isn’t Feta.
½ red onion
½ a long cucumber
1 red and 1 green pepper (capsicums)
1-2 big soft red tomatoes
A big rectangular slab of Feta Cheese
Extra Virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Lemon juice (if desired)
Some local variations include capers (Santorini), and a softer, less salty cream cheese instead of feta (Crete).
This is a salad remember, so it’s not complicated. But here’s a few tips.
Take the ingredients (except the feta) out of the fridge about 1 hour before you make up the salad. Salad vegetables always taste better when not fridge cold, especially tomatoes.
Use local, organic produce for the best taste.
Use extra virgin olive oil, again for the taste.
The Greeks generally peel the cucumber, so why not do the same?
Chop the vegetables into fairly decent-sized chunks and mix gently. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with plenty of olive oil, and a little lemon juice if you want to.
Pop the slab of feta on the top and drizzle with more oil, then sprinkle with oregano.
Have a good chunk of granary bread handy, because there’ll be some lovely olive-oily juice at the bottom when you finish.
A soft, light white wine goes well with this authentic Greek Salad!