Monday, June 8, 2009

In which I go Greek

So, Summer is either in full swing, nascent, or on it's way for a number of us (not so much the Southern hemisphere, but the rest of us), and I personally am starting to feel the cooking groove in my hands again. I'll be honest, I have barely cooked in the last year (in fact, I have eaten quite poorly for a good part of it). The other night, I whipped up a meal that made me (and my co-habitants) really happy. It was a fun meal to cook and it turned out well. So, in the interest of self-motivation, I am going to try and write a little bit about food and cooking and just keep track of what I'm up to on here more.

So, my gift to you for early June... my family's Greek Salad recipe.
This is something that my parents and I always ended up coming back to as a refreshing salad, super easy to make, and with a wee bit of attention, can be the core of a surprisingly hearty meal.

You will need cucumber (field or English), tomatoes, onion (yellow or red), kalamata olives (pitted or non), feta cheese (whichever type you prefer - I love Macedonian feta, if I can afford it), fresh (FRESH) basil, olive oil (ideally extra virgin, but again, not necessary), and optionally, balsamic vinegar. I find that half of a good sized cucumber and one or two tomatoes will make an amount sufficient for a side dish for about four people.

English cucumbers are good to use as is, but sometime with field cucumbers, I find that the skin can be a bit tough or bitter, so if you don't want to risk that getting in the way, just give the field cucumber a really quick peeling, but don't worry if there is some skin left, it won't ruin anything.
I recommend removing the cucumber seeds (cut into quarters lengthwise, then just scoop or cut them out) and the tomato juice/seeds (again, quarters, then just sort of squeeze around until the goop is out). Removing the innards of the veggies is not necessary, but I have found that it greatly improves the storage life of the salad. It will then be good for a few days in the fridge without getting completely soupy and soggy. Of course you can keep the innards and make a veggie slaw or spread or whatever tickles your fancy.

Dice/chop the cucumber (I prefer it on the finer side, not big chunks) and tomatoes (these can be bigger as they don't have the solidity of the cukes) and toss them in your mixing/serving dish of choice.
Mine/dice a small amount of onion (I use yellow, and you probably need about a fifth of an onion for the other amounts I use, but add to taste), and add the bowl.
Throw in your olives (with pits in I find taste better and usually are just nicer, but if there are young ones present, or you don't know if you'll be able to warn everyone, go with the pitted).
Ah, the cheese... I love (LOVE) feta, but I find a certain amount of restraint is good here. Crumble in enough so that there is maybe a 3:1 ratio between veggies and cheese at most.
I like sweet (Genovese) basil, but I've yet to try a variety that didn't taste amazing. Tear up (don't cut, or else your basil will brown. Also, tearing basil is fun) a good number of leaves. Basil is amazing, I can't imagine overdoing it in the dish, so add to preference.
A good splash of olive oil (3-4 tablespoons?).
A dash of balsamic vinegar if you want (I love the slight bite it gives-helps mellow out the feta).

Either mix it up, or make it straight in the serving dish. People will go picking through it for the favourite bits anyway, so I just serve it straight.

I know that's a lot of writing, but it really takes about ten minutes to put together, tops. The other night we had this with focaccia bread (olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping) and a small steak. The salad is substantial enough that you really only need a small amount of other food to supplement it (I splurged and bought a *good* cut of beef, but it was all we needed on the side).

And now I have to run to work. Have a good week peoples, I'll see you soon.


  1. I'm not a fan of salads other than Caesars, but that sounds tasty. Minus the olives, I don't like olives.

    Damn, now I want Bruschetta. mmmmm

  2. i used to work in a sportsbar where we did a greek grilled wrap sandwich, andafter the first 2 or 3 times, they stopped letting me chop the feta, because there was never as much there as there was when another cook chopped it.

    mmmmmmmmmmm feet cheese


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