Classic Greek Salad: Jump to the Recipe.
I’m not sure when I learned to make Greek salad, but it’s always a hit. If I’ve gotten into some weird funk where I’m too lazy to make and eat salads—this happens to me sometimes, especially in winter—making this one reminds me that salads are easy, delicious, and healthy. The bouquet of dill, mint, and fresh lemon always sings Springtime to me. Greek salad adds a bunch of raw, crispy, vibrant green that nicely complements the richer items on the menu.
This classic Greek salad’s also a wonderful light dinner. At one point, I would have thought a crusty baguette on the side was necessary. But now, I’m good with it all by itself. Admittedly, the whole wheat naan pictured above served as an excellent scooper, if you like that sort of thing. And spanikopita on the side—recipe soon—is yummy, too.
Because who doesn’t want to pretend they’re in Greece, lazily floating from island to island, inhaling the perfume of pine, olive, and salt air? I realized I owe my friend Joanna a virtual Greek weekend. Until then, this meal can be one of the things that you eat should you decide to plan your own virtual weekend to Athens, Santorini, or Astoria, Queens, where you can get some pretty amazing Greek food.
Greek Salad: The Steps
Mince garlic, salt it, and add some lemon juice. The salt and lemon juice help the garlic break down. You can do this any time up to 4 hours but at least 20 minutes before you put the salad together.
Either dice some really fresh tomatoes if great tomatoes are available, or quarter some cherry tomatoes. Put both together in a colander, sprinkle with salt. Let drain, at least 20 minutes and up to an hour or so.
Depending on how you feel about raw garlic, either remove the garlic pieces from the lemon (you can use them to cook in something else), or leave them in. Add oil so that you have a proportion of maximum one half part lemon juice to one whole part olive oil. Because you’ve got some fat here—from the feta cheese and olives—you can get away with a little more acid. Just be judicious. I don’t like my salad swimming in dressing, so I’m inclined to go lemon juice light—maximum one tablespoon. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together.
Pit some olives. Slice a red onion very thin. Add them to the dressing. If you like, artichoke hearts, sliced cooked or spiralized raw beets, grated carrot, and minced sun dried tomatoes can go in this layer as well.
Crumble on some feta, the best you can find. I like to go to Mediterranean Market in Ann Arbor, the closest Middle Eastern food supplier, and see what’s in the deli counter. Add the drained tomatoes and cucumbers. Top with a mix of greens. Romaine is essential, in my mind. Something dark but not too tough, like a baby kale, arugula, or spinach, is also great. Spring mix is a little flimsy given all the hearty components in this, so I recommend you don’t use it here. I do add plenty of herbs, and I keep the leaves whole. They look pretty, and they taste amazing.
Top with pepper to your heart’s content, and chomp away.
Classic Greek Salad: The RecipePrint
Classic Greek Salad, the Perfect Way to Welcome Spring
This Classic Greek Salad features crispy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese and olives in a simple lemon, garlic and olive oil dressing.
- 1 small clove garlic, minced or smashed
- 1/2 cucumber peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, cubed
- salt to taste
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup pitted olives
- 3–4 tablespoons very thinly sliced red onion
- 3–4 ounces best possible quality feta cheese (no crumbles)
- 6 cups mixed crispy greens including romaine, baby kale or arugula, and fresh herbs
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Make the dressing: place the garlic in a small dish, salt it, and pour the lemon on top. Let stand at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Place the cubed cucumbers and tomatoes in a colander and lightly salt. Let stand 20 minutes, then shake out any accumulated water.
If you don’t want raw garlic in the salad, strain the lemon juice into the salad bowl (or, if you choose, add with raw garlic still in it). Add the olive oil, and whisk together. Add in order olives, onions, feta, cucumber tomato mixture, and greens. Toss well. Serve with bread or spanikopita if desired.