Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Greek Salad

This is a story of one of the simplest dishes having the most impact. I have this memory of a Greek Salad that I ordered at a restaurant in Palm Desert during one of our trips there. It was my favorite thing I ate that entire trip. Tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta makes for such a simple combination that it’s weird that I even remember it. But, it was perfect. When I read my review copy of A Girl and Her Greens, I found myself nodding in agreement with April Bloomfield’s description of her Greek Salad. It starts with fresh, ripe tomatoes and cucumbers, and I have a little thing about fresh cucumbers. Just like tomatoes, farm-fresh, just-picked cucumbers have so much more flavor than anything from the grocery store. And, I love bringing home different varieties of cucumbers. I found two types of cucumbers and several types of tomatoes at Boggy Creek Farm including the red and purple Indigo Rose tomatoes. After you gather the best of those two ingredients, Bloomfield suggests you take the time to cut them into different shapes to make the salad more interesting. Then, those chopped pieces get refrigerated to get them nice and cold. She marinates the onions in vinegar and oil for a few minutes. These little details along with carefully choosing the type of olives and using a good goat feta make this simple salad great. Thoughtful considerations like these are found in all the recipes in the book. I did a similar nodding in agreement as I read the Eggplant Caponata and Piedmontese Peppers with Tomato, Basil, and Anchovy recipes. There’s nothing too difficult here but lots of smart techniques for delicious vegetable dishes. 

So, to make this salad, the chopped cucumbers and tomatoes were placed in separate bowls and refrigerated for 30 minutes. That way, if juice from the tomatoes runs, it won’t get the cucumbers soggy. While those chilled, I sliced red onion into rounds and marinated them in Banyuls vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and a little salt. Separately, a vinaigrette was made with lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Once the cucumbers and tomatoes were chilled, they were combined, the lemon vinaigrette was poured over them, and they were gently tossed. There’s mint in this version of the salad, and I’m lucky to have mint growing in front of our rented, temporary home that I can use. I have my own basil in pots, but everyone knows I’m incapable of growing mint myself. I used both herbs in the salad. For olives, Bloomfield uses pitted Nicoise. I like Nicoise olives fine, but meaty Greek olives are my favorites. I used some of both. And, I used our locally made Pure Luck goat feta. To serve the salad, the cucumbers and tomatoes were placed on a plate, the onions were set on top, olives were scattered about with the mint and basil, and feta was crumbled over everything. Last, the remaining liquid from the bowl with the onions was drizzled over the salad. 

Taking care with each step of this salad made it wonderful. The service wasn’t nearly as good as what I remember when I ordered that Greek Salad in Palm Desert and the view from the dining table this time didn’t compare at all, but the flavors, textures, and freshness were just as good if not better. Next up from this book, I have to try a very similar salad that becomes a sandwich filling on thick, white bread. It even inspired me to bake the bread myself. 

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15 comments:

  1. So fresh and delicious! I need to get some of those dark tomatoes too.

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  2. You've just made the best looking Greek salad. Your presentation is stunning. I'd love that for my dinner! xx

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  3. i've heard about april bloomfield more in the past three days than all of my previous days combined! she's delightful, and so is this salad. :)

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  4. Thank you for this inspiring, flavorful summer salad, Lisa!

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  5. I can never get enough of a great Greek salad. It's the perfect combination of ingredients that come together in perfect harmony. I can't wait for summer heirloom tomatoes to come in to make this version.

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  6. One of my favorites....using real feta from Greece. I eat it almost weekly!

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  7. PS I did not know you are mint challenged! What? It's a weed, comes back every year, I can't kill it if I tried!!! :)

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    1. It's the weirdest thing--I can't grow mint! I've tried in different parts of our yard, I've tried in containers, and it always dies. My gardening friends get a good laugh about this!

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  8. I can never resist a good greek salad. This looks amazing!!

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  9. I think the problem with living alone is not having a fridge full of salad makings. I always keep the basics, tomatoes, endive, cuke and pepper...but that's it. This salad is nice and basic...only need to add feta and olives really. Laughing about your mint problems...I couldn't get rid of mine when I had an outside garden. Now I have container gardens and mint does nicely here too. (Although we need rain badly.)

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  10. I think if I could only eat one kind of salad, it would be a Greek salad. Perfect for a summer evening meal with some pita and stuffed grape leaves.

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  11. Hi Lisa, the way you describe this salad makes me want one now today for lunch. All the ingredients look so fresh and delicious, I love a good crunchy salad.

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  12. Loads of lovely flavors in this! And it's gorgeous -- really nice. Thanks.

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  13. Very nice...and truly beautiful!

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