Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A real Greek salad

David and I recently got back from a 10 day trip to Greece. We visited Athens, Santorini, and Naxos, and we soaked in a lot of sun and a lot of food memories. The strongest memory is of the Greek salads. I had always thought that Greek salad meant a combo of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. However, that's not really what the Greeks have in mind. A real Greek salad is daring. It has no lettuce. It has a huge steak of feta cheese on top. It is sprinkled with fresh chopped oregano, doused in olive oil, and sprinkled with a tiny bit of vinegar. On the islands, you get a special treat -- sundried tomatoes and fresh capers that grow and are produced on the islands.

I was so taken with this last ingredient that I bought two jars of Santorini capers to take home. I cannot explain to you how different these capers are from the capers I was used to. They are briny and big, some three times the size of grocery store capers. I have been using them in my own Greek salad, without feta cheese only because I didn't have any in the house. Here's a basic recipe for Greek salad, inspired by our trip to Greece.

Greek salad

Two tomatoes, seeded and chopped
One medium cucumber, chopped (peeling optional)
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half moons
4-6 Kalamata olives
1/2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp fresh or dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Place cucumbers in bowl, then place tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with red onion and capers. Place olives around edges of bowl. Pour olive oil and vinegar over salad, then salt and pepper to taste.

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