Can I see a show of hands of who could use a nice, light meal right about now? Yeah, me too.
The holiday season is officially over – so it’s suddenly socially unacceptable to wash your turkey and stuffing down with eggnog. Now that I just typed that out, I realize doing so should probably be outlawed. Good thing it’s not though because I’d be in the clink big time…I’m talkin’ locked up for life.
Let’s face it – diets are doomed from the end of October through December. I don’t mean diet in the traditional – or fad – sense of the word. I just mean the way we normally eat on the day to day. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my everyday eating, I’d just rather not be plagued by eater’s remorse. So it’s simple enough – I eat well most of the time. Sure, I do things like take a swig of naughty nog every now and again, but by the time I’m done indulging, I look forward to getting back in line.
Maybe it kind of goes along with the whole no diet thing, but I’m not a huge salad person. I’m just kind of “meh” about them since they usually leave something to be desired. That being said, I consider this salad the exception to the rule.
The base of any good Greek Salad begins with romaine lettuce. Not baby spinach, not iceberg, not those humungo bags of salad greens that have fancy frisée…good old romaine. Cut off the bottom and then slice every inch or so to get bite sized pieces. Add these to a bowl into which you’ll pile everything else.
Next up: cucumbers. I use the European kind because they’re seedless and you don’t have to peel them. You’ll only need a half of one, but munch on the other half as a snack…or just make another big bowl of this salad.
I love green peppers in my Greek Salad, so I always slice a sweet Italian cubanelle into rings or strips. I also had some celery on hand that was in a use or lose situation, so I chopped up a couple stalks. Happy accident here – extra freshness and crunch!
This was an all green salad up until this point, but we’re about to spice it up with some color! Chop up a couple fresh tomatoes – I like to keep them in pretty large chunks, but shape and size is entirely up to you.
Then, slice half of a small red onion suuuuper thin. I personally love the flavor this adds, but I know some of you are opposed to onions, so I won’t judge if you leave them out. On the fence? Slice up just a little bit of onion and toss it with the rest of the salad. You can pick them out if you don’t want to eat the actual pieces and you’ll still get some of the flavor they provide, which I think is a good compromise.
Here’s a curve ball for ya – chickpeas. I hate olives…all kinds of olives. They’re a staple in Greek Salad, but they’re forbidden from mine. Chickpeas are a good substitution size wise and they don’t add any unnecessary salt. We’ll get enough sodium from all the feta we’re about to add.
While I hate the saltiness of olives, I adore salt factor of feta. Can someone please solve this mystery for me? If you’re like me and love feta cheese, go above and beyond the amount called for. A little extra cheese isn’t gonna wreck this recipe.
Honestly, above everything else – the dressing makes this recipe. It’s a little sweet from the sugar and a lot tart from the vinegar and lemon juice. I sprinkle in some dried herbs, all of which are essentials in Greek cuisine – basil, parsley and oregano. Good stuff!
I’m likin’ the way those layers look…they won’t last long though. We gotta get everything good and mixed up so that each and every bite ends up with a coating of that delicious dressing.
Classic Greek Salad
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Prep Time: 20 minutes
1 head Romaine Lettuce, Chopped
2 whole Ripe Tomatoes, Cut Into Six Wedges Each, Then Each Wedge Cut In Half
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cubanelle pepper, sliced into rings
1/2 European Cucumber, Peeled, Cut Into Fourths Lengthwise, And Diced Into Large Chunks
1/2 whole Red Onion, Sliced Very Thin
1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed & drained
6 ounces, weight Crumbled Feta Cheese
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 1/4 teaspoons Sugar
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Dried oregano, parsley and basil, to taste
Add chopped lettuce, tomato wedges, cucumber chunks, onion slices, chickpeas and the feta to a large bowl.
Combine olive oil, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, and dried herbs in a bowl. Whisk together until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your personal preference.
Pour dressing over salad ingredients. Toss with tongs or clean hands. Just before serving, top with additional feta. Note: pepperoncinis and artichoke hearts are delicious additions! If you’d like to truly make this a traditional Greek salad, go ahead and add olives.
Does it gross you out that I’m talking about food so soon after the holidays? Should I have taken a hiatus? How do you feel about the fact that I’m not even going to pretend that I’m still full from all the food I ate over the last couple of days?
Listen – the world won’t stop turning – and stomachs will growl surprisingly soon. When yours does, make this salad. You won’t be sorry :)