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What Should I Drink with a Greek Salad?

What Should I Drink with a Greek Salad?

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A DRY, JUICY ROSÉOlives and feta cheese provide richness that can handle the soft, berry fruit of a dry rosé. Great rosés can come from anywhere, but seek a lighter, paler style. Its complexity, great acidity, and flavors of dried herbs and berry fruit will connect with the diverse flavors and textures of a Greek salad.Skouras, Zoë Rosé, Greece, 2013 ($11)

A CRISP AND ZINGY WHITEA salad featuring feta, olives, onions, tomatoes, and vinegar is mouthwateringly tangy. A wine of similar sharpness will handle its bite. Look for a crisp sauvignon blanc. Bright, grassy, and citrusy, its herbal side complements the olives, oregano, and garlic, while its zesty citrus fruit embraces sweet summer tomatoes.Giesen, Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand, 2012 ($12)

OOPS! Avoid heavy, tannic reds like cabernet sauvignon, syrah, or merlot, which taste sour next to anything bright and acidic. —Jordan Mackay

Grandpa's Greek Salad

My Grandpa William immigrated to the U.S. from Romania when he was about 18 years old. He died when I was less than 10 years old, so my memories of him are mostly tied to childish delights, like his card tricks or how he cut the skin of an orange in one long, swirly piece. Grandpa was a great cook. Mom says he cooked "out of self-defense," in an age when a home kitchen was generally a woman’s preserve. Grandma's idea of dinner was boiled chicken and limp vegetables. I remember watching him add ketchup to that dish in a valiant effort to give it taste and I'm betting that wasn't his only trick to make her food just a bit more edible.

My mom taught me to make Grandpa’s Greek salad - a simple, but delightful salad, perfect as tomatoes come into season. The only secrets to success with the recipe are great summer tomatoes and letting the salad “steep” for at least 1 hour, preferably longer. The salad creates its own juice if the tomatoes are good, so plan to serve it with excellent, crusty bread, such as a French baguette, sour dough, or peasant-type black bread.

The origins of Grandpa’s Greek salad recipe remain a mystery, and I have no idea who named it. When I was growing up, the salad had only 3 main ingredients – tomatoes, green pepper, and celery. I have asked my mom why the salad doesn’t include feta and olives, typical ingredients in “standard” Greek recipes. Her answer was that she and her sister disliked them, so when they were kids, Grandpa took feta and olives out of the recipe. I put them back in, smiling as I do – for all the parents who bent to the culinary wishes of their kids and wondering what my Grandpa would have done in the age of Stay at Stove Dad.

Greek Salad – 2 servings Total cost - $4.12 (just over $2 per serving)

For the Best Greek Salad, Let Myth Be Your Guide, Not Your Master

Food changes. It changes over time, and it changes from place to place. To resist that is to resist what has led to all the food we love. There was no Greek salad, as we know it today, before tomatoes made their way from the Americas to Europe in the 16th century. And Greek salad itself has changed as a result of its journey farther from home. In the United States, you often find lettuce on the plate among the tomatoes and cucumbers, the feta cheese crumbled or cubed and mixed with everything else—two things most Greeks wouldn't recognize as belonging to a proper Greek salad. The challenge we all face is to decide where to draw the lines. What change is good, and what change is not?

Ultimately, this is a personal decision. My Greek salad doesn't have to look just like yours. It also doesn't need to look exactly like the ones in Greece after all, the Greek salads there aren't all carbon copies of each other. Still, it helps to reflect on why the Greeks make Greek salads the way they do. Why do they serve the feta in slabs on top, and not broken down into small bits and tossed with everything else? Why is there no lettuce? Why is the oregano usually dried, the olives still full of pits, and the dressing made with vinegar and not lemon juice?

There's not always a good answer to every question. Like a parent who issues an exasperated Because! to a demanding child when no good answer is available, sometimes cooks retreat to similar defenses. Why is there no lettuce in a Greek salad? Because. that's not how it's done.

And sometimes, the answer is clear and strong. Why slabs of feta and not crumbles? Because feta has a salty intensity that has the potential to eventually make every bite a little too much. Because it's better to let the eater control how much feta to eat in each mouthful. Because it's a better study in contrasts: a nubbin of briny feta, then a refreshing palate cleanser of tomato, then a mix of all of them together—maybe a tender and sharp olive, followed by a cool and crisp cucumber.

My own version of the salad takes all of these questions into account, respecting some of the decisions dictated by tradition and breaking with others.

First: Mine has no lettuce. The Greek salad, in my mind, is like a Caprese salad, a celebration of tomatoes when they're at their peak. The other components are there to add interest in the form of texture and flavor. Lettuce, therefore, just acts as filler. When the tomatoes are good—and, as with a Caprese, you should be making this salad only when they are—the addition of lettuce doesn't offer much. If you want to improve the salad even more, look for a variety of tomatoes, in order to pack more colors, shapes, flavors, and textures into the salad.

Second: I keep my feta in large slabs. I've suffered through too many Greek salads that felt oppressive, as each successive bite became more and more of a chore, the feta screaming at me the whole time. Plus, serving it with slabs lets your guests know that you didn't buy some crappy pre-crumbled feta at the supermarket. This is, after all, a very simple salad, so the quality of all your ingredients matters here.

I'm less opinionated on which feta you should use. Most Greeks would probably insist that it has to be Greek feta, but I've eaten enough good feta from other producing countries, like Bulgaria and France, to know there's plenty out there to go around: some creamier, some crumblier, some saltier, some milder. Buy whichever good-quality feta appeals the most to your taste, wherever it's from.

For the olives, I break with tradition. A classic Greek salad usually comes with pit-in olives, but I'm a big believer in not making the diner do the pitting at the table. Understanding the context of the salad helps here. I was discussing it with a Greek friend of mine recently, and she reminded me that in Greece, you almost always eat a Greek salad at a taverna, where the tables are covered in paper, not cloth. That kind of casual dining setup means you can set your pits right on the table—it's better not to put the pits back on your plate, lest one roll back into the salad and end up breaking your tooth—and, since pit-in olives are often higher-quality than pre-pitted ones, that's how they're served. But at home, we can buy pit-in olives, remove those pits in the kitchen, and not deal with a table scattered with chewed pits later.

Onions are another area in which I break with tradition. Traditionally, they're incorporated raw. But I've always had a problem with raw onions in my food I prefer to temper them one way or another. In testing this recipe, I tried a few ways: soaking them in ice water, soaking them in warm water, and giving them a red wine vinegar bath to rapidly pickle them. My preference was for the quick pickle, which tempers the onion's pungency just enough while working little bursts of acidity into each sliver. You can then use the vinegar in the salad, which imbues the whole thing with a subtle onion flavor.

Which brings me to the vinegar, the acid that completes this salad. I'm not sure why—I've been unable to find a good explanation—but for whatever reason, despite the popularity of lemons in Greek cuisine, they're just not the acid one reaches for when serving a Greek salad. Maybe it's because in the tavernas where it's sold, the salad often comes undressed with bottles of olive oil and vinegar on the side, allowing each diner to add each to their own taste. Since lemon juice degrades as it sits, it's a less practical option. Regardless, vinegar is the flavor that I've come to associate with Greek salad, so lemon is out.

The final component is the herb, and here, once again, I'm siding with what is most traditional: dried oregano. This is one of those cases in which dried is arguably better. First, because oregano is a hearty, woodsy herb that handles drying well, remaining aromatic and flavorful in a way that delicate herbs, like parsley and basil, do not. And second, because its flavor when dried changes to something even woodsier, yet softer and more tame than it would be fresh.

The last step is serving it. Season the vegetables with salt and dried oregano, dress them with oil and vinegar, toss, then plate and serve, setting the feta on top. There's no need to pre-salt the vegetables here, as we do in so many other recipes to prevent them from growing watery as they sit. Adding salt at the last minute will draw out the tomato and cucumber juices, and when it comes to Greek salad, we want that good stuff on our plates. That's what the bread is for—sopping up all those juices. I doubt there's a Greek salad recipe in the world that wouldn't be improved by that.

Yes, you definitely can mix all of the ingredients together and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve. If you are going to make more than 4 hours ahead of time, I would store the dressing separate and just pour that over when you are ready to serve. You don’t want the lemon juice to break down the tomatoes and cucumber and make them mushy.

The dressing recipe makes more than you need, so serve over Greek pasta salad if you have leftovers or just over a side salad whatever works. Or just make a bigger batch of this salad and you are good to go!

Summer side dishes that you bring to a party often involve mayo like the Best Potato Salad recipe, but they can be light, bright and super fresh. Which is why I love this salad. Asian Ramen Salad is another staple in my house in the summer and everyone always asks for the recipe.

So if you are headed to a get together of any kind, this is the perfect salad to bring. You don’t have to worry about it going bad, and it will go with just about anything!

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Tasty Greek Salad recipes

Greek salad is one of my absolute favorite dishes. It’s both hearty and fresh, sweet and salty – such depth of flavor. My brother and I have been known to fight over who gets the last bowl. Even when I make a large bowl for just myself, there’s never enough.

This salad has a perfect symphony of flavors from the sweet tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, spicy red onions, and savory olives. It’s the fresh taste of Greece in a bowl.

• Ingredients:
• 4 beautiful, ripe tomatoes or 20 cherry tomatoes (I used multi-colored heirloom cherry tomatoes)
• 1 cucumber (I used Japanese cucumbers)
• 1/2 small red onion (or to taste)
• 15 kalamata olives (pitted)
• 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 2 tbsp olive oil (optional)
• salt and pepper to taste

• Directions:
1. If using regular tomatoes, chop into thin wedges. If using cherry tomatoes, cut in half.
2. Clean the cucumbers. Peel the cucumber if the skin is thick or if it isn’t organic. Cut into thin half-moons. The tomato-to-cucumber ratio should be 1:1.
3. Thinly slice the red onion into thin half-moons.
4. Either cut the olives in half or keep them whole (make sure they have no pits!).
5. Add the vinegar, olive oil (optional), salt, and pepper to taste.
6. Fold the ingredients together.
7. Enjoy!

To make this a fat-free salad, remove the olive oil and olives from the recipe. To have a fully raw version, find raw olives at a health foods store.

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STEP ONE – Arrange romaine lettuce in a large serving platter or bowl.

STEP TWO – Top the salad with kalamata olives and sliced red onions

STEP THREE – In a bowl, whisk together the mayo, water, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Greek yogurt. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

STEP FOUR – Drizzle Caesar salad dressing over the salad followed by the crumbled feta and toss to coat. Serve.

Homemade Caesar Salad Recipe Tips

I used packaged red and green leaf romaine lettuce because that is my preference, you can stick with the more traditional green lettuce if you prefer.

I do not use anchovy fillets in the dressing, but if you love anchovies, by all means, add them in!

I kept things especially simple and omitted croutons from this recipe, which of course, is not an option when you are keeping with the traditional Caesar salad! You can make homemade croutons, used store-bought or even use toasted pita bread!

You can easily make this a meal by topping your salad with grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp!

Recipe Summary

  • 4 chicken leg quarters
  • 1 (24 ounce) bag small potatoes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon and herb seasoning
  • 1 (12 ounce) package fresh green beans

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Grease a large baking sheet with sides.

Place chicken quarters on prepared baking sheet. Stir potatoes, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and lemon herb seasoning together in a large bowl to coat potatoes. Arrange potatoes around chicken on baking sheet. Pour about 3/4 of oil mixture over chicken, reserving remaining oil drizzle remaining lemon juice over chicken and potatoes.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes shake baking sheet to loosen potatoes, then continue baking for 15 minutes. Place green beans in reserved oil mixture toss to coat. Remove chicken mixture from oven pour green bean mixture over chicken and potatoes.

Return pan to the oven bake until green beans are tender with a bite, chicken is no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear, about 15 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

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Greek coffee preparation has as many variations as there are Greeks. Some people swear by boiling the coffee three times and stirring only once. Others boil once and stir, stir, stir. No matter how you take it, this coffee is usually sipped slowly and paired with lively conversation.

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