Here in the U.S. it’s Memorial Day weekend, which for many people, marks the start of summer. For me, however, summer doesn’t really begin until I make my first Greek Salad. With fresh-picked, sun-ripened tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and fresh herbs, tossed with salty feta cheese and plump kalamata olives, one bite can transport me to the shore of a Greek island, with fishing boats bobbing in the harbor and bouzouki music drifting from a nearby taverna. Heaven.
In our house, this summer tradition usually involves me picking the ingredients fresh from my garden, but this year, between a busier than usual schedule and our attempts to live in two different places, 400 miles apart, I have ended up with no vegetables planted in either place. Undaunted, I’ll be trawling my local farmer’s market, waiting until I can get all the ingredients there. Because, yes, you can make this salad in December, with ingredients from the supermarket, but honestly, why bother? When your tomatoes have been picked while they’re still pink and shipped from Mexico, no amount of imagination is going to conjure a Greek island.
So, here is my Greek Salad recipe. It’s stolen straight from Epicurious.com, my go-to place for recipes, and was first published in Bon Appétit magazine. It takes about a half hour to make, but tastes better when it’s made a couple of hours ahead of time. You can use it as a side dish with a chicken kebab or a lamb burger, but our favorite way to eat it is as a main course, with a loaf of crusty bread and a bottle of chilled rosé – eaten al fresco, of course.
Lisa’s “Summer’s Here!” Greek Salad
- 3/4 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups diced seeded peeled cucumber (from about 1 large)
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper (from about 1 large)
- 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives or other brine-cured black olives, halved
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 2 ounces)
Toss first 9 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Gently mix in cheese. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)