Greek salad is the poster boy of greek cuisine. And for a good reason. It combines in a plate all the vegetables that mean summer in Greece; sweet juicy tomatoes, succulent snappy cucumbers, peppery sweet onions, crisp peppers and of course who can leave out the greek briny cheese. All of the held together with the power of olive oil, topped with oregano. A herb that is 100% greek. You find it in abundance in the hills and mountains of the greek country side. The greek salad is not only a delicious combination, but it is also visually appealing. You eat with your eyes first. All the crisp vegetables also engage the hearing in the experience. It is therefore a full sense experience. The quintessential greek summer (and not only dish).It is also a classic dish. So why remake a dish that As my professor of thermodynamic if you are going to repeat something that has been done many times before, you either need to right a wrong, or offer something brand new. In this post I am approaching both aspects. Greek salad in the US has involved to something strange. Started with tomatoes and cucumber and soon peperoncini chilies, lettuce, huge olives joined the party. The final salad is a abomination that the only common thing with greek salad is the feta cheese. And this is a complain of mine: slapping feta cheese on top of anything and calling it greek? WRONG!!!This is the first part I will try to address. Also I will show a slightly different recipe from what it is typical in Greece. So are you ready? Of course you are…
Here is the legendary list of ingredients:
- 1/2 lb tomatoes
- 1 cucumber
- 1 small onion
- 1 small sweet peper
- 1tbsp pf capers
- Salt peper
- Green stuff
This is a pretty standard list of ingredients. But as you can tell from the picture it is not what we have. I switched around some ingredients. Instead of red tomatoes I use mini heirloom tomatoes and a kumato (mexican brown tomato), instead of cucumber I used small cucumbers, instead of the typical green pepper I used a small sweet bell pepper and instead of the onion I used a shallot. Also instead of the not so typical lettuce i used the arugula. Arugula is a peppery rockery (and so the name) green that also has a snap and holds well in salads. It is not typical to add lettuce in greek salad but I tend to like it. It gives a different feel to the salad.
Just look at the amazing colors. And it is not only the colors. The flavor is so much better. Sweeter and very unique. If you have not try them yet please do.
The are small, almost bite size. I still cut them in half to release some of the juice that will become the dressing. More on that later.
Just look at them. By the way, botanically speaking, tomatoes are fruits in the class of berries. You can see from tho picture why. Also since we are in the subject, berries are also the peppers and the cucumbers.
And again, so pretty… Ok Enough now.
Scoop the in the bowl of your choice.
This is the bowl of my choice. Glass is better but plastic is fine too.
Salt them and let them for 5-10 mins to get some of their juice flowing.
The kumato tomato we will be cut in thin slices.
Like this. I just use this to great variety of colors, textures and flavors. They will be the base of the salad.
Also cut the cucumber in thin slices.
We will treat the pretty pepper the same way.
Remove the top.
And slice it in thin slices (what else you will slice it into?).
Add everything in the bowl and toss to mix.
Pretty… We have all the colors of the greek salad (green and red) plus a bunch of other more.
Trim the shallot root.
And the top part.
The shallot is a cross between the onion and a garlic. So it has cloves that are consisting of concentric layers of the onions. The flavor is sweeter but also stronger. It is great with butter. The butter shallot combo is the base of everything french.
Slice it as well.
The shallot, although sweeter has a more pungent flavor and it can be an issue. So we will depungify it.
Put in a bowl and add plenty of kosher (or sea) salt.
Rub the salt with your finger. This action will act as an abrasive to break down the cell structure to release much of the pungent flavor.
Wash the shallot with cold water.
Rub the shallot again.
Squeeze it in your hands to drain it well.
And add it in the bowl. Use your fingers to separate the onion rings.
Chop the herbs. Parlsey.
Add some mint. Yes… mint is not typical in geek salad, but does this look to you as typical greek salad?
Chop with your knife. Yes flying pinky. I know.
Finely chop by rocking your knife back and forth.
The thyme is easy. Take the spring and pull with your fingers to remove the leaves and left with the stems. Add all the herbs in the bowl.
By this time enough liquid frm the cucumber, onion, and tomatoes has be extracted. This will be the acid of the dressing. If you are watching food network you probably heard various chefs referring to the extraction of liquid with salt as osmosis. Every chef on Food Network knows about osmosis. I hate it.
Add equal amount of oil. Squeeze bottles are so awesome! I love them!
Mix with a spoon. Yeah you can use a whisk too, but… It has no emulsifiers (mustard, eggs etc) so it will never come together so no need to mix with a whisk.
Add the arugula in the dressing and toss well to coat.
Write before you serve add oil to dress the tomato salad.
Start with a plate… (empty and clean).
Build a foundation with the kumato tomato.
Top it with the dressed arugula.
Folow that with the tomato and cucumber mixture.
Follow that with the feta. Crumble it with your fingers.
Top it off with oregano.
Add some capers. The tradition dictates for olives. I like capers. No pits to spit out.
A final dressing with balsamic vinegar.
Follow it with some more oil.
And there you have it.
Greek? Most definitely. Traditional? Maybe. Tasty? I will leave this to you…