A well-made combination salad is an irresistible delight. Especially on a hot night. It is healthy eating at it’s best and appeals to all types of eaters, fitting all palates (those on special diets appreciate lusty main dish salads they can dig into with abandon as well).
A main dish salad often combines the commonplace with exotic ingredients–artisanal cheeses, olives, tropical fruit, fresh lemons, fruity first press olive oil, and fun pasta shapes with the wide availability of good produce. Slice the bit of onion right before you plan to serve it so it is sweet-hot. A recipe is just the start; here is a place with the freedom to create your everyday fare into something a little bit special. These self-contained meals that can be expanded or contracted to serve any number of people.
I had a girlfriend whose favorite meal, almost every night of the week, was Greek salad and sautéed snapper. Need I say this is one popular salad, both in restaurants and in the home kitchen? Hearty, robust, soul-satisfying, Greek salad is a rustic and simple garden salad. And iconic in the salad world.
Pick up some special olives at the olive bar in the supermarket. Kalamata are the usual choice, but you can use any variety you like. Canned black olives are fine if you like a mild, buttery taste rather than some of the more assertive salty ones. Some tangy, bright green extra-virgin olive oil. Check out the supermarket olive bar for your favorites or a new one to try. Fresh or dried oregano, which goes into the vinaigrette. Ice cold crisp leafy greens. Summer tomatoes. Very ripe, dripping with juice. Add half a can of rinsed garbanzo beans if you want the salad to be a bit more filling. A small block of feta at the Middle East market.
Feta is a brined medium-soft cheese made from sheep’s milk that is characteristic of Greek cuisine. There is no substitute flavorwise. Since it is brined, rinse it off with cool water before crumbling it into your salad. Many deli sections with a cheese selection have a low fat feta. To store in the refrigerator, cover with water in a covered container.
Serves 2 to 4
- 1 large cucumber, partially peeled if preferred, seeded, and sliced into thick half rounds
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 6-ounces feta cheese, crumbled to make about 1 1/2 cups
- 1 cup pitted and sliced black olives, such as Kalamata
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Greek Dressing
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Pinch dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
Combine the cucumbers, romaine, tomatoes, onion, feta, and olives in a serving bowl. Take your time cutting everything nice. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small jar with a screwtop lid; shake well. Makes about 1/2 cup.
Drizzle with the dressing; toss to combine. Serve immediately, letting diners serve themselves.
Excerpted from Not Your Mother’s Weeknight Cooking, by Beth Hensperger. (c) 2008, used by permission from the Harvard Common Press.
Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2016
Please enjoy the recipe and make it your own. If you copy the recipe and text for internet use, please include my byline and link to my site.