Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

We're gonna wrap up our Greek Memorial Day menu with a wonderful fresh salad.

One thing I learned in my recent cooking class about Greek food, (or inspired) is that they use food that is very fresh, and they eat it fresh.  That is, with minimal cooking.  This salad is a perfect example of that.  Nothing fancy schmancy here.  Just good quality ingredients put together simply. 

To make the flavors pop you need to buy the best ingredients that you are reasonably priced.   (Don't go crazy)  Since tomato season hasn't started yet check out the market for heirloom tomatoes.  If they are not too overpriced pick up a couple of different colors to try.  They will give you great flavor for this dish, and remember each color of tomato has a different flavor.  I chose two that I love, a nice orangey red one with a more earthy flavor and a bright orange one which tastes a little more citrusy.  They both have great flavors that brought depth to the dish.  

English cucumbers are great in this dish as they are crisp, but if you don't have one or can't find one it's no problem.  Just peel the regular kind to remove the waxy skin and slice them up.  A mandolin is perfect for this job, making nice long slices like I did.  Again, if you don't have problem!  Cut them however you want.  No fuss!

The other power flavor to this dish is the dressing.  Greeks us a lot of Feta cheese.  And rightly's fantastic!  I usually buy the kind that come's from Sheep's milk (made in France) that's sitting in the water,  since it is a little less tangy and lighter.  Valbreso is a great brand to try.  Or if you happen to have an ethnic market in your area and you can get your hands on a brand called Piknik you'll be in heaven as well!  Along with the other ingredients such as garlic and oregano this dressing is a winner.  So don't skip this part as it's key with this salad!

To recap our Memorial Day Menu

Chicken Souvlaki
Kopanisti - Greek Feta Spread
Tzatiziki - Yogurt Dip with Garlic and Mint
Pita Bread
Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad with Feta Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Have a wonderful, safe holiday!

Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998)

For the salad:
4 beefsteak or assorted heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 large red onion, sliced paper-thin
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the feta vinaigrette:
1 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. dried oregano
1 Tbs. finely minced garlic
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or as needed
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Arrange the tomato, cucumber and onion slices on a platter. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

To make the vinaigrette, in a blender or food processor, combine the olive oil, oregano, garlic, feta cheese, vinegar and pepper. Pulse briefly to blend. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a bit more vinegar if you like. Spoon over the tomato, cucumber and onion slices and serve.

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