Village (Greek) Salad

Jul 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Bread, Cheese, Featured, Greek, Herbs, Olive Oil, Olives, Salad, Vegetables

Four years, over 1000 blog posts and not one blog post on perhaps one of the most identifiable of Greek dishes…the Village (Greek) Salad.I thought to myself would I get chuckles for posting such a non-recipe or I thought to myself, how could this blog not address this salad? I chose the the latter.

In Greece, one would order a “horiatiki” or village salad. The Greek Salad outside of Greece is also known as a “Greek” or you’ll see it on menus as a “Village” Salad. When ordering a Greek salad it’s always good to read the menu card carefully or ask the waiter what’s in the salad. If you don’t, you mat see a salad arrive that also contains….iceberg lettuce (gasp).

A Village (Greek) Salad should not contain lettuce of any kind and for the record, iceberg is not indigenous to Greece and it’s arrival to Greek supermarkets came after Greece’s markets were opened-up to a flood of produce and goods from the rest of Europe in the early 90’s. Here in Canada and the US many Greek restauranteurs have added lettuce as filler and to add insult to injury – bland tomatoes tossed with suspect olive oil and Feta cheese of dubious origins. Much of the blame is pointed towards Greek restaurants in the West who have dumbed-down Greek food, added filler (like iceberg) and continue to serve inferior Greek food. Ask the server what olive oil they use, where’s the Feta from and taste the tomatoes. Here’s my revenge on lame Greek restaurants…send the Greek salad back if you’re not satisfied.

Greeks are often asked what we put in our Greek Salad that makes it so delicious and Greeks will agree with me when we snicker before we respond. I’ve also been asked to bring a “Greek Salad” to parties or to pot-luck lunches or dinners. Could it get more easier? The Greek Salad is easy to pull off and even easier to screw-up!

The proper Village Salad contains tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, olives, olive oil and Feta cheese, oregano. No lettuce of any kind. This simplistic Village Salad will earn you major points but if you want your dinner guests to laud you, go the extra mile to assemble this otherwise easy salad.

Make this salad with ripe, in-season tomatoes. I may make a Village Salad as early as April when decent hot-house tomatoes arrive and as late as early October when the last of the local, vine-grown tomatoes are in the markets. A tasty, ripe tomato will make or break your salad. I like to use red onions as they are mild (they don’t repeat on me) and I like the colour and natural sweetness. Then there’s cucumbers….whole slices or cut into halves – your choice. I also like my cucumber with the skin on – just more flavourful but again, your prerogative. There’s slices of green pepper and you can use bell peppers, banana peppers or red, yellow or orange peppers if you don’t like green peppers.

That rounds-out the vegetable component of your Village Salad. On to the dressing. The dressing…the non-recipe. The dressing is the best, BEST Greek extra-virgin olive oil you can find. Here it Canada, I recommend Acropolis Organics, Christine Cushing’s two olive oils, Kalikori and Artemis olive oil. There are many quality olive oils out (especially the Greek ones) and I encourage to try one of them, you’ll taste the difference and for Heaven’s sake…you’re making a Greek salad…use a Greek olive oil.

The proper Greek salad does not contain wine vinegar or lemon juice but a splash of good wine vinegar or squeeze of lemon juice is totally acceptable. What isn’t acceptable is to use any Feta cheese that contains cow’s milk. It’s a sin, it’s not really Feta and you’re just short of eating cottage cheese. Use a Feta cheese that’s made in Greece with goat, sheep or a combo of both these milks to make the Feta. Perfectly aware that not everyone lives in a part of the country with Greeks and therefore no Greek deli or market, then look for a domestic Feta that at least is made of goat or sheep’s milk. NO COW’S MILK FETA!

You’re going to need a sprinkle of sea salt, some pungent dried Greek oregano and a garnish of Kalamata olives.  You may certainly use your favourite olive and I on occasion top my Greek salad with the wrinkly, salt-cured Throumpa from Halkidiki. Other variances to a Greek salad made be witnessed while in Greece: In the Cyclades (islands) I’ve seen the Greek salad topped with Anthotyro, a tangy ricotta cheese and the islanders will also often garnish with some local capers (also acceptable). I’ve added a handful of purslane that’s growing wild in my garden, adds to the salad without being distracting.

Village (Greek) Salad (Χωριατικη Σαλατα)

(serves 4)

2 large, ripe tomatoes, rinsed & cut into 6 wedges

1 cucumber, washed well and sliced

2 sweet banana pepper, sliced or 1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

12 Kalamata olives

extra-virgin olive oil to taste

Feta cheese, served in cubes, batons or slabs

sea salt to taste

2 tsp. dried Greek oregano

garnish of capers or purslane (optional)

  1. Add your tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and onions in a large bowl along with the olives and sprinkle some sea salt. Now drizzle in some olive oil and sprinkle some dried Greek oregano. Top with Feta and olives, drizzle a bit more olive oil on the Feta and sprinkle some Greek oregano on it. Garnish with  capers or some purslane from the garden.
  2. Serve with good crusty bread.

 

Related Articles:


Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

© 2011, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved.

Print Friendly

Related Posts



24 Comments to “Village (Greek) Salad”

  1. Nisrine says:

    I love the slab of feta so much better than the crumbled kind I buy. The salad looks fab!

  2. nic says:

    This is definitely the dish that astonished me the most when I visited Greece, in terms of the gap between what we get here (US) as “Greek Salad” and what I was served everywhere there. It was delicious, and beautiful. I loved it so much that it was the first thing I tried to make when I got back. Tomatoes have been my biggest obstacle. Like you say, they either make or break the salad. It’s been breaking mine. It’s just not the same. I did not realize how poor the availability of good tomatoes here was, until then.

  3. I thought I spied some purslane in there. Yes, I can believe you haven’t yet posted this salad – there are too many other delicious things to write about. I know there are many Italian dishes that are so common and so good that I haven’t posted yet either. That’s what makes this blogging adventure infinite. But back to your salad – it’s one I never tire of eating and seeing your beautiful photos of it, I am off to buy feta – SHEEP’s milk feta. (My post today has a warning on a particular cheese too.)

  4. Rosa says:

    Humble, but oh so magnificent!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Christina says:

    I’m in CA, and while we should have some great tomatoes, NOTHING compares to the tomatoes of Greece! Nothing. Bummer. I’ve never met a Greek salad without some vinegar in it. My family in Thessaloniki always uses red wine vinegar. Maybe we’re “improper”. ;-)

  6. Connie says:

    Even worse than Iceberg lettuce is the scoop of mayo-based potato salad that’s added to Greek salads in the Tampa Bay area. Do any other regions in the US do this?

  7. it would be disgusting how fast i would eat this
    this is HEAVENLY to me.

  8. Stamatia says:

    To me, red wine vinegar is necessary, and the peppers are optional. My theia in Galata puts green peppers in, but my dad never did when we were growing up, so they must be a more recent addition.

    When it comes to domestic feta, on the East Coast (of Canada) I’d recommend Holmstead, which doesn’t have any cows’ milk and is made by a Greek gentleman (according to my parents). If you’re near a Costco, the Epiros feta really is fab – I’m so glad Peter recommended it! And I can’t wait till our local Costco opens next month so I won’t have to drive two hours away to get my next fix!

  9. Regarding Feta, no other country can produce cheese and call it Feta, only Greece is allowed. Denmark and some other countries making a fake feta cheese can’t call it Feta anymore, it’s now a PDO product. You might see it as Danish white or something else! I agree, no lettuce in the Horiatiki! Enjoyed this post!

  10. Such an interesting post. What is typically perceived as a Greek salad and a proper one are so different. Many people would think their salad was lacking without lettuce. Thank you!

  11. Jan says:

    Totally agree with you – it has to be Greek olives and olive oil

  12. this is what i need for this hot and sticky summer heat!

  13. I can’t imagine how horrific an out of season Greek salad would taste! And thank you for mentioning the feta – I really wish hey wouldn’t sell the cow feta here in the states, it is just flavorless! Yes to sheep and goat cheeses!

  14. Louis Nikolaou says:

    Peter,

    Thanks for reminding me of how much….. simple….fresh,,,,and seasonal foods taste and feel so great! This simple horiatiki is a masterpiece. Tried it last night and each mouthful satisfied me fully and revived my memories of my last trip to the Mani.

    Yia sou manga!
    Louis Nikolaou

  15. Olena says:

    Hmmm. I smell a Greek salad snob…? :) Just kidding. I agree with this blog post completely. However, I could swear I saw shredded cabbage and other “horta” in salads served in perfectly authentic restos in Cyprus. Can this be?
    Personally, I like “bulking up” the traditional Greek salad with a bit of lettuce (not iceberg, goodness forgive) but this is purely for nutritional rather than gastronomical reasons.

    • PeterUK says:

      Yes in Cyprus we use shredded cabbage, not necessarily any olives and lots of parsley (or coriander for a change)

  16. Beautifully presented and explained Peter! This is one of the tastiest (non) recipes yet! LOL!

  17. Wow, can’t believe you’ve never done a Greek salad on your blog before! :) Your photos have made me crave a good Greek salad now – minus the lettuce of course.
    Julia

  18. elly says:

    I had to laugh at “feta of dubious origins.” Hahahaha. The classic and the best salad, Peter! Also, what is up with those restaurateurs in FL? Man, my friend lives there and tells me they put HAM on Greek salads. And now I am reading about potato salad? What the holy hell?

  19. Greg Brown says:

    As an ardent user of your blog for reference (take it as a compliment) you did in fact blog about a greek salad WAY WAY back……….just had to give you a hard time – your posts are GREAT

  20. […] .addtoany_subscribe img{border:0;} Often called horiatiki, village salad, or peasant salad, the true Greek salad is chock full of tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and feta cheese. A devilishly enjoyable mixture of flavours and textures. In a small village, away from the tourists, here's the simple salad you'll enjoy. But, no need to wait until Greece – enjoy it now.   Ingredients (Serves 3-4) 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp vinegar 1 tsp dried oregano Large dash pepper Dash salt 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges 1 cucumber, sliced ½ onion, thinly sliced 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped ½ cup sliced black olives 1 tbsp capers, drained 8 oz (220g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled   1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar,oregano, pepper, and salt. 2. Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, olives, and capers. Toss well. 3. Add the feta cheese and toss until well distributed and coated with dressing. Note: Traditionally, a Greek salad has green bell pepper in it, but In The Devil's Kitchen we like the colour coordination of a yellow bell pepper. Your choice – no rules.   Often called horiatiki, village salad, or peasant salad, the true Greek salad is chock full of toma…//www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=190335981022430&href=http://inthedevilskitchen.com/2011/09/03/village-greek-salad&send=false&layout=standard&width=450&show_faces=true&action=recommend&colorscheme=light&font&height=80" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:450px; height:80px;" allowTransparency="true"> Often called horiatiki, village salad, or peasant salad, the true Greek salad is chock full of tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, and feta cheese. A devilishly enjoyable mixture of flavours and textures. In a small village, away from the tourists, here's the simple salad you'll enjoy. But, no need to wait until Greece – enjoy it now.   Ingredients (Serves 3-4) 2 tbsp olive oil 2 tsp vinegar 1 tsp dried oregano Large dash pepper Dash salt 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges 1 cucumber, sliced ½ onion, thinly sliced 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped ½ cup sliced black olives 1 tbsp capers, drained 8 oz (220g) feta cheese, coarsely crumbled   1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar,oregano, pepper, and salt. 2. Add the tomato, cucumber, onion, bell pepper, olives, and capers. Toss well. 3. Add the feta cheese and toss until well distributed and coated with dressing. Note: Traditionally, a Greek salad has green bell pepper in it, but In The Devil's Kitchen we like the colour coordination of a yellow bell pepper. Your choice – no rules.   WordPress › Error […]

Leave a Comment