Greek Salad. Just reading the words makes my mouth feel all tangy and happy. Greek salad in Greece? Reading that makes me want to jump on the next flight to Athens.
Oh my gosh, there is nothing better than Greek salad in Greece. My bestie Jen and I started our Grecian adventure exactly one year ago today. We then proceeded to eat Greek salad every day (sometimes twice a day!) for two entire weeks.
In honour of our Greece-iversary and as a tribute to food perfection, I bring you this deconstruction and montage of Greek salad. And though this isn’t a food blog, you can find my toss-it-together recipe at the end of this post.
Greek Salad Basics
Greek salad in Greece is written θερινή σαλάτα, which directly translates as ‘summer salad.’ It classically consists of:
- feta cheese
- olive oil
Sometimes people will add green pepper and/or capers. Maybe an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. And maybe some spicy pepperocini peppers.
One thing that’s never in Greek salad? Lettuce. Now, some people will be sure to tell you how a-NNOOOY-ing it is when people or restaurants put lettuce in Greek salads. My advice on that? Chill. Greek Summer Salad doesn’t contain lettuce because it isn’t seasonal at that time. However, I don’t think it’s worth getting righteous over the semantics (a Greek word!) of salad-naming. Just eat your ingredients with mindful appreciation. And don’t order Greek salads that list lettuce as an ingredient just to prove a point. 🙂
Greek Salad History
I have to say, I really like the idea of Ancient Greek peasants preparing and then eating a sun-ripened Greek salad, perhaps out of earthen bowls. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen. For years, people in Europe feared eating tomatoes. The plant was incorrectly classified as a deadly nightshade, a very poisonous member of the tomato family. Perhaps even more damaging, tomatoes were also known as mandrakes. Mandrakes have a Biblical association with being ‘love plants.’ Translation: tomatoes are corrupt and unscrupulous temptresses.
Slowly, a few brave souls began cooking with tomatoes. Eventually, everyone learned that tomatoes didn’t deserve their shady reputation. And then the Greek salad was born.
Where to Eat Greek Salad in Greece
The answer to this is easy: everywhere! Literally every restaurant you pass will have a Greek salad. The sun-ripened ingredients will be at their best between May and September. It’s fun to see how different places make the salad. As you can see from the photos in this post, there are some artistic and ingredient variations.
Greek Salad Recipe
I now make Greek salad regularly in my kitchen. Based on the dozen+ Greek salads I had in Greece, this is my best duplication, with lots of room for your own ideas and preferences. I don’t add red onion because although raw onion is delicious, I’m just not keen on the 6-hour aftertaste. Feel free to add some if this doesn’t bother you.
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- sliced English cucumber, peeled or unpeeled
- Yellow pepper chunks (green peppers have always tasted a bit unripe to me)
- A few kalamata and/or green olives. Ones that come from the fridge section are best.
- Feta cheese, cut into blocks, cubes or crumbled
- Salt-packed capers. Rinse ’em first.
- Dried oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in about a 2:1 ratio
- Squeeze of lemon juice
Mix all the veggies together in desired amounts. Add your olives. Put the feta cheese on top of everything and sprinkle the capers on top of the feta. Shake some dried oregano over everything. Dress with oil, vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Greek salad is a bright and tangy food passport that’s relaxed and open to interpretation. Sometimes I add chopped cauliflower, arugula, or a bit of orzo pasta. Heck, throw in some lettuce – I promise I won’t tell anyone! All I ask is that you make it yours and enjoy.