Way back in 1999, the fall after I graduated high school, I got to go to Greece with my Mom, Dad, and sisters. We landed in Athens and stayed at a quaint little hotel right in the middle of the action. The plaka was full of life, exotic products, and restaurants. One thing I noticed at every restaurant was always a plate of horitaki next to carafes of delicious local wine. We later got to visit the town where my dad’s relatives lived called Akrata, it is a fisherman’s village on the coast and unencumbered by the mobs of tourist, full of culture it was like taking a walk back in time, the salad however was the same, Greek olive oil is so amazing, its fruity, aromatic and totally amazing, I remember wishing I could take home one of the five gallon drums they sold in the tiny stores where the even tinier widows would look at me with as much curiosity and I had for them. Until I actually went to Greece, I thought Greek salad had lettuce, I was mistaken. A proper Greek salad contains; tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olives, feta, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and usual dried oregano and maybe some fresh parsley. For my version today I used:
1 large heirloom tomato, any type will do as long as it is ripe, I sliced mine thin but traditionally it is chopped into large chunks.
1/2 English cucumber sliced thin, can also be chopped
a few thin slices of onion
2 oz of feta crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 kalamata olives
salt and pepper
pinch dried oregano
tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley
1 pepperoncini sliced (optional)
There are many variations on this classic, but I think it is best in its simplest and purest form, when the produce is fresh this salad is at its best and Summer is the prime time to serve this. Best really to not over complicate it, it can also easily be turned into a main if you serve it with some rustic bread or mix it with pasta for a great pasta salad. Want to send it over the top? Invest in Greek olive oil, as wonderful as Italian or California olive oil is, there is something special about the oil of my heritage….opa!