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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dining Al Fresco: Greek Salad

Finally, summer has arrived! The signs are clear: the farmer's market was open for business this week, and of course, we turned on our air conditioning for the first time this year!

The most apparent sign, of course, is my garden is starting to take off.... I see flower buds forming on my tomatoes plants, the mizuna is lush and the cucumber seeds have finally sprouted. My radishes have shown their true leaves and we can't wait to snack! (Fingers crossed.)

Unfortunately, none of my lettuce sprouted (I had to re-seed), but I found this nut growing in the lettuce beds likely planted by some wily squirrel last autumn.

Summer is a natural time for salads. Cool, refreshing and light-tasting made with in-season produce. When it's hot in the kitchen, I love a fresh salad with a side of grilled garlic bread for dinner. However, one of the salads I never like was Greek salad. In my defense, my introduction to Greek salad was not exactly inspiring: Insipid soggy iceberg lettuce, weighted down by grainy tasteless tomatoes and oily dressing. But that changed for me about two years ago, when my future husband and I went to Montreal to visit his parents. They took us to a fantastic Greek restaurant where I was properly introduced to Greek salad: Fresh sweet tomatoes, crispy crunchy peppers, graced with lightest touch of olive oil, and delicate salty feta. I came home that weekend with a new love and made that salad almost every weekend last summer. This salad has easily become one of my favourites.

In the warm days of summer, this is such a beautiful, colourful and clean-tasting salad to eat. It's a perfect accompaniment to chicken soulvaki and lots of tzatziki.

The secret to this salad is to slightly pickle the red onion for at least half an hour. The onions remains crunchy, but the onion's sharp taste muted. It takes away the bite (and also the bad breath!) The rose-tinged vinegar doubles as part of the vinaigrette.

Greek Salad

1 small onion - sliced thinly
1 c white vinegar
3 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite sized chunks
1 small sweet yellow pepper, cut into bite sized chunks
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into half moons
1/4 tsp ground oregano (or a small handful of fresh oregano leaves)
1/3 c Kalamata olives
1/3 c crumbled goat's milk feta

extra virgin olive oil
large flake sea salt

1. Soak onions in vinegar. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.
2. Toss peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and oregano together.
3. Top with olives and drained red onions.
4. Sprinkle feta.
5. Drizzle 1.5 tbsp of the vinegar and olive oil on top.
6. Serve.


Pearl said...

that salad looks so delicious!

Marta said...

Yay for summer salads!!!
And double-yay for the pickled onions, great call! I'm not a fan of raw onions, I just find them hard to digest, but it's amazing what 30 min of brining can do to them, they become perfectly delicious!
And ricotta drizzled with honey... how didn't I know that?! Glorious!!! Jamie is awesome!
Actually, you know that movie Julie and Julia that's coming out? Well a friend suggested I should do that with Jamie Oliver, just work my way through each single recipe in one of his books... lots of work, but I'm sure worth it!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

What a great tip! I love Greek salad, so I'll have to pickle my onions just like you said. Thanks!

Christina Kim said...

if only it stopped raining in boston, we could dine al fresco too!

Christina Kim said...

If you're going to Montreal, I think this particular part of Vermont is still about 3-4 hours away... but it would be worth it to get some really high quality blown glass!

V said...

Thanks for the tips on the onion!

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