Is there anything better in the summer than a vine-ripened tomato, particularly the really ugly, misshapen ones that are loaded with flavor and vibrant in color (unlike those pale, tasteless, store-bought tomatoes that are available year round).

Did you know that there are over 7,500 varieties of tomatoes?

I’ve had my share of Greek salads (aka Horiatiki salata or village salad) in traveling through Greece. Had a few really good ones, but have yet to find one made with anything other than your standard red tomato.  That’s what’s great about preparing dishes yourself at home.  You can put whatever you like in your Greek salad, including an assortment of ripe, juicy heirlooms bursting with flavor.

I’ve included a few suggestions for “traditional” and “not so traditional” ingredients to incorporate into your salad.  Add whatever happens to be in season, top with a generous amount of good quality extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of coarse sea salt, and you can’t go wrong.   “Make [food] simple and let things taste of what they are.” — Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland)

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One Big Fat “Greek” Salad

“Traditional” Ingredients:
Tomatoes
Goat’s milk feta
Fresh oregano
Cucumbers (prefer the slender Persian or Armenian; they have much smaller seeds)
Bell pepper (red, green, yellow)
Onion (place in colander and rinse under cool water to make less pungent)
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Capers
Olives
 
“Not-So-Traditional” Ingredients:
Purslane
Fresh basil leaves
Garlic chives
Pumpkin seeds (dry roasted in a skillet, until they start to pop)
Hot peppers (such as Hungarian hot wax pepper) to add a little kick
Sea beans

A word on purslane (Glistrida, pronounced ghlee-STREE-dah in Greek): Purslane, considered a weed by some, is probably growing in your yard right now.  This succulent green has more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid) than any other leafy vegetable.  Aside from nutrition, purslane actually tastes quite good.  It has a lemony citrus flavor and adds a nice crunch to any salad.  You can use the leaves, tender stems, and all.

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