The Perfect Greek Salad
Γεια Σας! Greetings from Greece and the beautiful island of Crete.
As most of you already know, I’m half Greek by birth and 100% Greek by heart. Just look at the picture below and you’ll understand why I fell in love with this country the first time I came here. It’s a country full of charm, people with hearts as warm as the sun, and crystal clear beaches that stretch on for miles.
Back in 2010 I moved to Greece and lived in Athens for five years. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I try to come back as often as I can to visit friends and family. But it never seems to be often enough. But at least I’ll be here for the next month, followed by Copenhagen and Stockholm. So get ready for some fantastic recipes!
I feel like I must start this trip with a post for Greek salad, because it’s truly Tal’s favorite dish … ever! If he had it his way, we’d eat Greek salad seven days a week. It’s simple to prepare, but there are some important steps to make sure your Greek salad is truly authentic. First and foremost, Greek salad is all about highlighting summer’s beautiful tomatoes. So make sure you make this salad when tomato season is at its peak. Forget about Greek salad in December, please! Second, use a good quality Greek olive oil. About 75% of Greece’s olive oil is of extra virgin quality. It’s the only country in the world (sorry, Italy) that produces such a high quantity of quality olive oil. Another key to producing an authentic Greek salad is to peel the cucmbers. You will never find a Greek salad (called Horiatiki in Greek) with cucmbers that haven’t been peeled. Peeling the cucumbers removes any bitterness, created by the skin. Another critical component is the feta cheese. If you are buying feta made from cows milk, you aren’t buying real feta. In Greece, feta is made from either 100% sheep’s milk, or, a blend of mostly sheep’s milk and some goat’s milk. Personally, I prefer feta made from 100% sheep’s milk. It produces a creamier more mild flavored feta. Last but not least, capers and a splash of their juice. In the states everyone seems to forget about the capers, but they really do add the finishing salty/briny touch to this salad.
Now, as they say in Greek kali orexi (bon appetite).
1 English cucumber, peeled
4 large ripe tomatoes, diced
half a red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup feta cheese, cut into small chunks
2/3 cup Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/4 cup capers, plus one tablespoon caper juice
1/3 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil
2 tablespoons dried Greek oregano
flakes of sea salt, to taste
Rinse and peel the cucumber. Slice the cucmber in half and then in half again, so that you have four large pieces. Cut into slightly thick chunks. Toss them into a bowl. Rinse the tomates and cut into chunks. Add them to the bowl, followed by the onion, feta, olives and capers. Just before serving, toss the salad gently to blend everything together. Add the caper juice, olive oil and salt. Give the salad a stir. Sprinkle the oregano on top and serve immediately.
Be sure you serve this salad with plenty of bread to soak up the tomato juice and olive oil.
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