Friday, September 24, 2010

GREEK SALAD or HORIATIKI SALATA


Eating a Greek salad is one of the best parts of summer. Simple to make and so very delicious. Just about every one has their favorite version of Greek salad, and here is mine. I make it without lettuce, because a traditional Greek salad contains no lettuce. It seems that here in the US we can't think of a salad not having some type of leafy green in it. That's fine. Actually, I have a favorite American style version of Greek salad, that includes lettuce & arugula. Today though I am presenting the rustic, country style version that goes on the table in every Greek household and seaside taverna. It 's usually served along with the entrée rather than before or after it. The dressing is simply olive oil and lemon, maybe a little vinegar too. There's always some dressing left at the bottom of the bowl and it absorbs the taste of the salad ingredients. In keeping with the rustic nature of this salad, a common practice is to mop up and eat the leftover dressing with pieces of freshly baked bread. This disregards a large measure of savoir-vivre one might possess, but sometimes, who cares? It's a fun, sharing experience to break bread with family or friends in this way. There is even a name for these morsels dipped in dressing. They are called "papara," which is a term for bread dipped in olive oil.


Ingredients:

  • The word "horiatiki" (χωριάτικη), derives from the word "horio" (χωριó), which means village. Horiatiki salata can be translated as rustic style, or country style, or village style salad. Because of its rustic nature there is no right or wrong amount of ingredients to use. Just make sure the salad looks good! I use the following:
  • 2 or 3 tomatoes, sliced (sometimes I use both red and yellow tomatoes)
  • 1 cucumber (preferably the English variety because it has fewer seeds and tastes the best), peeled, sliced lengthwise, seeds removed if they are too big, then cut up in slices crosswise.
  • 1/2 or 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced (for subtler texture and flavor you can use a sweet Italian frying pepper).
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced in thin rings
  • a combination of kalamata and oil cured olives, pits removed
  • feta cheese cut in cubes
  • chopped parsley
  • black pepper
  • a small amount of salt (salt is optional, you may not want it because the capers and feta all ready contain salt, plus salt will mask the fresh taste of the vegetables)
  • dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • a few capers
  • a bit of lemon juice
  • if you are a vinegar fan, a bit of vinegar

Directions:
Arrange the sliced tomatoes and cucumber on the bottom of a nice sized salad bowl.
Next go the peppers and the capers. Then add the onion slices, salt if using, black pepper, oregano and olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice and the vinegar if using, and mix.
Once the above ingredients are mixed, add the feta, olives and parsley in a decorative pattern. Top with a bit more olive oil and oregano.
Before the salad is served let it sit in the refrigerator for a while. It will come out tasting refreshing, plus the aromas of the vegetables and olive oil will get a chance to mix together, creating their own unique flavor.
If you try this or any other Greek salad, I hope you really, really enjoy it!

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