We pretty much had a love affair with Greek Salad during our visit to Greece. We ordered it every time we ate at a Taverna - even if we were trying other Greek specialties, there were two things that were constant: a Greek salad and tzatziki with pita. You can made this whole wheat pocket-pita recipe to go with this, too.
But a recipe for Greek salad? Come on - you pile tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives and feta with a light dressing. It's not complicated, and in fact, I never used a recipe for the salads I made before going to Greece. So I decided that I would share the new things I learned about the salads they served us in Greece and how you can get that same authentic salad no matter where you live.
Even though it's not a standard recipe, I will still provide a printable 'recipe' below with the steps and tips included, though, so it will be easy to remember (if you're like me and need reminding, a-hem...).
Tips to Make an Authentic Greek Salad
- It is always a composed salad, meaning never mixed or tossed together (this was the first surprising thing to me).
- The first layer is a small amount of shaved lettuce or cabbage - really. Mostly it was lettuce, but one taverna served it on a bed of cabbage. And the amount is so small that you don't see it until you start digging into it (unlike the salad I made at home for these photos - our daughter only likes lettuce - notice how some of the lettuce is bare so none of the 'yucky' tomatoes or cukes touch it, so some authenticity was lost...sigh).
- The main ingredients should be equal amounts of tomato and cucumber, cut into large chunks.
- The salad is always topped with thinly sliced red onion - only red onion, never white or yellow.
- The olives are left whole - and there are only a handful (second surprising thing...).
- The feta is added on top and is sliced into large pieces, never crumbled (...and third surprise). There was usually one piece per person.
- The 'dressing' is a simple mixture of olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice - salt and pepper are added at the table.
- Most tavernas included a sprinkling of oregano on top and one even included a sprig of mint.
There you have it - follow these tips and you can make an authentic Greek salad anytime you want like we do now. I can. not. wait for fresh tomatoes from our garden - I'm not sure I will be making any other salad when I can use our home-grown tomatoes!
Ingredients & Steps for an Authentic Greek Salad
Note: use amounts you need for how many you're serving (two tomatoes and one larger cucumber will serve about 2-3, depending on what else you're serving)
- small amount of thinly sliced lettuce or cabbage (unless you have picky eaters and need to provide more lettuce...)
- large amounts of tomatoes and cucumbers, cut into large chunks
- thinly sliced red onion
- a block of feta cheese, sliced into enough pieces for each person to have one
- 10-12 Kalamata olives (or other brined olive)
- olive oil
- lemon juice or red (or white) wine vinegar
- oregano - fresh or dried
- salt and pepper
Note: compose in layers on a platter or in a large, shallow bowl
- On a medium-to-large platter, spread the lettuce in a layer.
- Top with cucumbers and then tomatoes.
- Add the sliced onion evenly over the top.
- Space the feta slices around the salad and toss the olive on top of everything.
- Mix the olive oil with your choice of lemon juice or vinegar - a ratio of about 1/3 c. oil to 2 Tb. lemon/vinegar is good - and drizzle over the top of the salad.
- Sprinkle with a bit of oregano.
- Serve with salt and pepper.