Recipe: Greek Salad
I have realized lately that I have spent a bit too much time complaining about the bad foods that are out there and the unethical bastards that market them. Don’t get me wrong, I think we need to talk about why certain foods are bad choices. After all, knowing your enemy really is key in everything you do, especially when you think your enemy is your friend.
So, instead of posting about bad foods, I am going to throw out one of my key foods, one of my go to meals, the Greek Salad. (A side note here, but most of the recipes I supply here are from magazines and websites, adjusted where necessary to be healthy. This recipe and associated advice is right out of the book though. I felt bad about taking so long to post a good recipe).
My mom has always eaten and enjoyed greek salads, but my mom has always liked eggplant and liver too, so I didn’t think I was missing out on anything. My salad was always an oil and vinegar or italian dressing on iceburg lettuce. I liked croutons and bacon bits as well, but no vegetables (okay, to be honest, I wouldn’t lose it if there were small slices of carrots in there, but they had to be small). Realistically there was no way I was going from a simple tossed salad to greek salad. There is no way, it is just too great a leap.
The main vegetables in a standard greek salad are:
- green peppers
- yellow/orange peppers and
If you read my purchase suggestion earlier on the vegetable grilling basket, then you will know that are almost exactly the same ingredients in the grilled vegetables. I have always found eating grilled vegetables much easier than raw ones. So, if you are like I was, and generally couldn’t stand vegetables (or at least had no love for them), then try grilling up these vegetables in the marinade I set out and eat them in a fajita or denver omelette first. Try that a couple of times and then graduate up to eating them on a 4 oz grilled steak (bury the steak in them, it is very very tasty).
As well, eat them on pizza. That was how I came to embrace onions and peppers. Pizza gets better as a choice when it is covered in vegetables (it still isn’t good, but it is better). Try to get used to these cooked vegetables as step one.
I discovered step 2 after I had already developed quite a love of greek salads. I was at this awesome greek restaurant in town (it is unfortunately gone though) and the menu said, greek salad $2.15. I figured I would definitely be having that! When it arrived it was huge and the vegetables were cut very small, more like a salsa than a greek salad. As well, the feta (which strangely was one huge block) was extremely flavourful. What I discovered though was that the small cut vegetables was a much easier to eat salad, much more flavourful and much more enjoyable. I had this lesson taught to me over and over after that time when people were pretty much serving me whole cucumbers and onions with a little dressing on it and calling it a greek salad! It wasn’t very tasty, and I would have to cut up the vegetables myself. On another side note, the greek salad at the restaurant sure seemed like the deal of the century at $2.15 as it was huge, and the whole $.15 seemed odd, as nothing had pennies associated with it on the menu, just dollars… Of course it turned out to be for 2 people at $15… the period was just a short line 2/15. It was worth it though, it was worth double that.
Another tip is to add a small amount of the cut up vegetables to your iceburg lettuce salad. Slowly add more until, hey, you are eating a greek salad.
So, cut the vegetables small, choose goat feta (feta is a great cheese, but if you don’t like it, try adding it to pizza too. You will eventually like it alot. Get the driest feta you can and keep experimenting until you get one that zings. The thing with cheese is, it is terrible for you, so if you are going to eat it, get the one that gives you the most bang for the buck.
Finally, olives. The things in the cans that you get at the grocery store, ARE NOT OLIVES. Sure they look like olives and say olives, but they have almost no flavor. The flavor in a good Kalamata olive is unbelievable. If you are going to keep your love affair with food going, but switch to healthier choices, you are going to have to find those food items that burst with complex flavors and this is one of them. Most supermarkets have olive bars now, but if not, you can always find them at your local deli or wherever you get feta cheese.
Enough writing, here is the recipe:
- 1 green pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 orange pepper
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 large red onion (great flavor in a red onion, feel free to experiment with onions in this dish)
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 english cucumber
- 12 ounces of goat feta cheese (3/4 of a pound)
- 16 Kalamata olives (these can be cut in two to give you more bites of olives, but that is your call entirely. Also, most times the pit is still in these olives, so be careful)
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 4 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (if you don’t have the lemon juice, just double the vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of oregano
- 1 clove of garlic
- pepper to taste
The recipe above makes 4 full servings. These are meal sized salads. If you want to use this salad as a side dish or eat it with a grilled chicken breast, reduce the amount of cheese considerably.
One last little note. Celery is the last vegetable that I thought I would like. I actually love the smell of celery salt and celery reminds me of it (duh). So, I was shocked when, for the first time I had celery in a Mediterranean salad I was amazed that it tasted great. As long as it is marinated in the dressing it is awesome. Feel free to add celery to the salad above, you won’t regret it.
The best thing about a greek salad is once it is in your diet repertoire, you can find it anywhere. You can get it in any supermarket, packaged up at a meal size to go or to eat right there. Every pizza joint has a greek salad as well. Order one and eat it 10 minutes before you order pizza and you will eat a lot less pizza. Really, the greek salad is the healthy go to option that is readily available, an awesome side dish and one of the great salads that you will come to love!
One last note about the salad I spoke about above. It was huge and I took a lot of it home. I also ordered a filet mignon souvlaki (meat on a stick) and it was big too, so I had them throw the leftovers in a box. The next day I heated them up together and ate the greek salad like a warm salsa on the pieces of meat and it was one of the best meals I have ever had. If you have extra greek salad and you don’t feel like eating it cold, you can always fry it up or grill it in a grill basket.