A couple of summers ago I finally took a trip to the southernmost part of Greece to Crete, Greece’s largest island. It was a week-long trip that was full of beauty, delicious food, warm and inviting locals and wonderful surprises. One of those surprises was discovering that avocados are now cultivated in Crete.
Much like in any other country, farmers remain farmers – it’s not so easy to make a career change from farmer to airline pilot. What is more attainable for farmers is to switch from one crop to another. One such example is when the tobacco farmers of eastern Macedonia & Thrace switched to growing asparagus.
The avocado began being cultivated in Crete in the late 80’s, grant money from the EU, the promise of a high yield (not prone to pest and disease) and potential for profit. The switch to avocados in Crete was led by citrus farmers and families with generations-old olive tree groves and both farming sectors saw a decline in profits. Avocados are easier to grow but like anything new and foreign, it took awhile for Greeks to take a liking to avocados.
Many Greek (Cretan) avocados are exported but more and more Greeks are adding them to their shopping lists and with Greeks traveling abroad more an sampling more international dishes, the avocado has arrived. Greek restauranteurs may also take credit for bringing the avocado to the Greek table. Don’t expect the avocado on every Greek table but it is making it on the shopping lists of Greeks more often.
As a simple experiment,try a ripe avocado with some crumbled Feta cheese – they are wonderful together and soon you may take the experiment further and try it with other salad ingredients. Today, I’ve included avocados in a salad with Romaine lettuce, ripe tomatoes, sweet red onions and the best cheese of all, Feta cheese.
Avocados are rich in flavour and this salad needs little by way of a dressing – more of an anointing of blessed Greek extra-virgin olive oil, some red wine vinegar (or lemon juice), sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Today, I felt like using the fresh oregano leaves from my garden but you may use mint, thyme or go a little Mexican with some fresh cilantro!
Avocado, Tomato & Feta Salad
2 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 large ripe (slightly soft) avocado
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar or lemon juice
4-5 Tbsp. Greek extra-virgin olive oil
fine sea salt & fresh ground pepper
chopped fresh oregano leaves
crumbled or cubed Feta cheese
washed Romaine lettuce leaves
- Slice your tomatoes, onions, minced garlic and add to a bowl along with the vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Allow the flavours to marry for about 15 minutes.
- When you’re ready to serve your salad, Cut your avocado in half, remove and discard the pit and cut into slices (or chunks). Squeeze some lemon juice on them (to prevent browning) and arrange your salad in a platter with the romaine lettuce on the bottom then arrange your tomato and avocado slices and top with the sliced onions.
- Pour the dressing in the bowl on top of your salad, top with sea salt, crumbled Feta, fresh ground pepper and fresh oregano and drizzle with some more extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice.
. All rights reserved.