The Ultimate Salad: The Greek

A Homage & Classic Recipe: The Greek Salad

I’m kinda sore today. Not terribly sore, though. Not sore enough to keep me from putting my 60-year-old body through yet another sweat-drenching Core class. I’m such a masochist.

Yesterday, I started out with an early hour session in the gym, then a 1000-meter swim, and at 3:00 pm, the aforementioned Core class. Finally, before dinner, Charlotte and I went on a mountain bike ride to the nearby seaside village Kolymbia where I showed Charlotte the beautiful orthodox chapel above the harbor.

Back at the hotel and showered for the fifth time, I was absolutely famished. Neither of us is eating lunch this week, so among several other buffet treats, I enjoyed a generous serving of a classic Greek salad from the above-pictured tray.

There’s something about the Greek salad that goes mostly unnoticed outside of Greece. Even though it’s so simple and reasonably affordable to make – and always beautifully colorful and flavorful – a Greek salad is remarkably hard to locate unless you’re at a Greek, a Greek Cypriot, or, possibly a Bulgarian-Albanian restaurant.

At home or whenever we spend considerable time abroad, I’ll typically serve a Greek salad as a main dish for dinner once a week. Unfortunately, in Asia, Kalamata olives and decent feta cheese are hard to find and usually very pricey. I’m hoping that one day, just like what happened with avocados, olives, and feta will also be produced locally.

Here’s a recipe for an authentic Greek salad, known here in Greece as “Horiatiki” (χωριάτικη σαλάτα):

Ingredients:

  1. 4-5 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges or chunks
  2. 1 cucumber, sliced into thin rounds or chunks
  3. 1 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped
  4. 1 green bell pepper, sliced or chopped
  5. 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  6. 200 grams (7 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled or cut into chunks
  7. Extra virgin olive oil
  8. Red wine vinegar
  9. Dried oregano
  10. Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Optional Ingredients (for garnish):

  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Pepperoncini peppers

How I make it:

  1. Start by preparing the vegetables. Cut tomatoes into wedges or large chunks, slice the cucumber into thin rounds or chunks, thinly slice the red onion, and chop the green bell pepper into chunks. Place all of it in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the Kalamata olives to the bowl. These olives are known for their deep, rich flavor and are a key component of Greek salad.
  3. Crumble or slice the feta cheese into chunks and add it to the salad. Traditionally, Greek salads use feta cheese made from sheep’s milk, but you can use cow’s milk feta if you prefer or can’t find anything else.
  4. Season the salad with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Be mindful of the salt since the feta cheese and olives are already salty.
  5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil generously over the salad. There’s no specific measurement; it’s a matter of personal preference, but around 1/4 cup is a good starting point.
  6. Sprinkle red wine vinegar over the salad, again to taste. Start with about 2-3 tablespoons and adjust according to your preference for acidity.
  7. Finally, sprinkle dried oregano over the top. The oregano adds a distinctive Greek flavor. Use 1-2 teaspoons or more, depending on your taste.
  8. Gently toss the salad to combine all the ingredients. Be careful not to overmix to avoid breaking the feta cheese.
  9. Optionally, garnish the Greek salad with fresh oregano leaves and pepperoncini peppers for extra flavor and presentation.
  10. Serve the Greek salad immediately as a refreshing appetizer or main dish. It pairs well with crusty bread or pita. Or, skip the bread altogether.