I am all for simple things. That’s why it’s a bit of a shame to admit, that I don’t remember when I last ordered a Greek salad or made one myself before we embarked on our journey. The ingredients list is more or less known to everybody, every item is a true pleaser to my palate and yet – why is it, that despite its simplicity the biggest food surprise of our holidays is this basic salad?
We have had the pleasure to spend some wonderful days with friends sailing the Aegean Sea (more on the trip soon) and eating our way through the Greek cuisine. Take my word for it. Our friend and skipper Georg, who knows the region like the back of his hand, guided us well from the most beautiful, deserted coves to pristine islands and local, tourist-free taverns. Ah yes, the food! If you think, that all Greek cuisine brings to the table is fat-dripping and heavy, think again. The most unbelievable and amazing dinner we had at a little tavern Georg had been to before and the few words he exchanged with the waiter – he simply said “You decide!” – left us both totally clueless about what was going to happen and excited!
Of course we fully trusted him but what came next I can only vaguely put back together. Ouzo-tinted, blurry memories about a true feast including 29 plates (for the eight of us) filled with an overwhelming variety of Greek mezethes, meat, seafood and – of course – the freshest Greek salads. The abundance of food left nothing to wish for (there couldn’t possibly have been anything on the menu that wasn’t on our table) and entailed an adequate balance of different textures and flavors — smooth and crunchy took turns with hot and cold as well as spicy and mild dishes. To this day, we couldn’t settle on the exact number of Mythos bottles and Ouzo mugs we had that night, our waiter was just too quick refilling our empty glasses… I’m going astray…where was I?
Back to the Greek salad. This salad is as outstanding as the ingredients you choose, simple yet incredible tasty. Its chunky texture and the lavish use of raw onions adds to its fresh apperance. Same with the dressing, which should be applied right at the table. Believe it or not, not a single meal we had – whether homemade on board or at a Greek tavern – came without a Greek salad as a side. That’s how good this salad is!
Peel the cucumber, divide lengthways, then slice thickly. Cut out and remove the stem of the tomatoes and cut their flesh into thick slices or larger chunks. ‘Till now I couldn’t find equally palatable beef tomatoes they used in Greece, that’s why I went with the next best thing, egg tomatoes. Peel the red onion and cut in half lengthways, then slice. Lastly, dice the feta in bite-size cubes.
Nicely arrange the prepared veggies and cheese in a big bowl and decorate with Calamata olives. Best dressed right at the table with sea salt (be frugal, as the olives and feta are pretty salty), freshly ground black pepper, good olive oil and white wine vinegar (which isn’t a must for me). On two occasions the salad we ordered in Greece was served sprinkled with dried oregano – an unnecessary addition if you ask me, at least if all of the ingredients are sun-kissed and darn tasty, but you decide.
Back home we enjoyed our memory salad with some sesame sprinkled flat bread from the Greek grocery shop around the corner and kept wondering, between which Greek islands Sheria (“our” sailing yacht) might be this very moment…
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: 10min.
Ingredients (snack or side dish for 2, amounts can be adapted to personal preferences):
2 large egg tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 thumb-thick slice of feta (~ 200g)
10 (or more) Calamata olives
optional: dried oregano
dress with sea salt, freshly ground back pepper, good olive oil and white wine vinegar
serve with white bread