Classic Greek Salad - Salata Horiatiki Recipe
Classic Greek Salad - Salata Horiatiki

By Diane Rossen Worthington

Greek Salad means different things to different people. Here in the States it can include bell peppers, radishes, anchovies, chili peppers and even potatoes. The classic Greek Salad that you find in Mediterranean restaurants features a simpler mix: peak of the season tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion and feta cheese. Olive oil is used to dress the salad with a dose of dried Greek oregano and possibly a splash of red wine vinegar.

What makes a great Greek Salad? The best quality ingredients, pure and simple. Cookbook author Tessa Kiros creates the perfect Salata Horiatiki in her latest book, "Food from Many Greek Kitchens." Ripe, red, sweet tomatoes offer juiciness to the other ingredients and act as another element in dressing the salad. Look for firm cucumbers that when sliced are a crisp counterpart to the soft tomato and cheese. Plump kalamata olives bring a zesty kick to the other ingredients. Purslane is a small plant with tiny leaves that blooms in the summer. If you can't find it, substitute another green with tiny leaves, such as arugula.

There are many varieties of feta cheese available today. Look for a sheep or goat milk cheese or a mixture of the two. The thing to remember is to select a softer cheese, as it will be younger and sweeter than a more aged, crumblier feta cheese. It is also easy to slice. I like to serve this as a luncheon main course on a hot summer day and always serve crusty country bread alongside to soak up the juices. To drink: a crisp white Sauvignon Blanc, a Greek white wine or a chilled sparkling water with mango nectar.

Greek Salad (Salata Horiatiki)

Serves 2 to 4, depending upon first course or main course.

8 gorgeous small ripe tomatoes, quartered

1 cucumber, sliced thickly on the diagonal

1 small to medium red onion, thinly sliced

About 17 drained kalamata olives in brine

1 heaping tablespoon capers

2 small handfuls of purslane, if you can get it (you could use small arugula leaves instead)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5-ounce slab of feta

1 teaspoon or so dried oregano

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, optional

Put the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and capers into a serving bowl. Add the purslane or arugula and season with a little salt and a few grinds of pepper. Put the feta on top and crumble the oregano over with your fingers. Drizzle the olive oil over, as well as the vinegar if using. Serve with bread.


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