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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sunny Greek Salad

No Greek summer would be complete without island hopping, soaking up the Grecian sun and eating a 'Horiatiki," or as we know it, the "Greek salad".  Ripe juicy tomatoes, crisp European cucumber, crunchy yellow onions, Kalamata olives, fragrant Greek oregano, extra virgin olive oil, and let's not forget the feta cheese (and not a leaf of lettuce)... these are the ingredients that secure this salad as a world-wide favorite, whether an appetizer, side dish, main course, or even a snack.
Even if you haven't had the pleasure of soaking in the Grecian sun while dining at a small taverna (or Greek-style restaurant) by the beach, while wearing your bikini and Havaiana flip-flops, you definitely had the pleasure of knowing a Greek salad at some point or another. Unfortunately, I have come to tell you that you have been dooped, played for, bamboozled. What most of you think is a Greek salad, is not in fact a traditional Greek salad or Horiatiki; it is the Greek American interpretation of the Greek salad.  A marriage of convenience between a garden salad with tons of creamy "Greek" dressing (whose dressing in fact is far from Greek) and feta, of which the outcome is grounds for a speedy divorce. A traditional Greek salad should have no lettuce, spring mix or any other kind of green leaf other then the dried Greek oregano; further, Greeks have never included any creamy dressing concoctions on their vegetables other than the famous "avgolemono”, but that's a discussion for a cooler day.  A real Greek salad is dressed with simply extra virgin olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.

The Horiatiki appeared when tourism increased in the 60's and 70's, and Greek dishes were gaining popularity. A creation made by the 'wannabe' restaurateurs of the time, that wanted to charge more for a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions which had fixed pricing from the government. Therefore, with the addition of a slab of feta cheese, they accidentally created this wonderful salad while inflating the price.

Nonetheless, the Greek salad, with its beautiful color composition and bold flavors, made its way as a summer salad in every Greek household, and eventually all over the world. The unique combination of summer vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, Greek feta and Greek oregano won our hearts and our taste buds.

Grab your havanianas and your SPF, and start your island hoping, and when your tummy grumbles and hunger strikes, feed it at the local seaside taverna. Your reward, not only the Grecian sun, but the "horiatiki" you will be enjoying!

Greece: Agia Paraskeui Beach near the Ionian Sea in the area of Sivota, in Thesprotia.

Horiatiki aka Greek Salad

4-5 large, ripe, tomatoes
1 large red onion
1 cucumber
1/4 pound (113.5g) of Greek feta cheese, sliced or cumbled
dried Greek oregano (rigani)
sea salt
top quality extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen Greek olives (Kalamata, green Cretan olives, etc.)

Wash and dry the tomatoes, cucumber. Clean off the outer skin from the onion, wash, and dry.
Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized irregularly shaped chunks. Salt lightly. Slice the cucumber into 1/4-inch slices, cutting slices in half (whether or not you peel the cucumber is a personal choice). Salt lightly. Slice the pepper into rings, removing the stem and seeds. Salt lightly. Slice the onion into thin rings.
Combine the tomatoes, cucumbers and onion in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle with oregano, pour olive oil over the salad, and toss. Just before serving, place the feta on top of the salad, either as a slice or crumbled, and toss in some olives. Sprinkle the cheese with oregano (and pepper if desired), drizzle the oil over the top, and serve with crust bread.

Tips: Before you cut the salad, place all the vegetables in the refrigerator for an hour. The coolness of the ingredients brings out the flavors.


magda said...

Please remove my photograph from your site. The photograph of this salad is a photograph taken from my personal blog and this post ( and you don't have the right to use it. Please respect my work and remove my photograph immediately.

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