Do you love chopped salads as much as I do? Eastern Mediterranean cuisine is full of different variations of them. Crisp and refreshing, they pair nicely with grilled fish, chicken or even stuffed into a pita with some creamy hummus. I find making chopped vegetable salads like this one easier than dealing with a bunch of lettuce. Just rinse the veggies, pat them dry, chop and toss with a light olive oil and lemon dressing.
Last night, the hubs and I indulged in oh-so-delicious cannolis and cream puffs at Boston's Modern Pastry Bakery. A girl's gotta live, right? If you come to Boston, remember to stand in the long line at this bakery and treat yourself to some.Today, I'm cooking light.
My Greek salad is made extra special by the addition of dried marjoram. Have you used marjoram in your cooking yet?. It's used a lot in Greek and Mediterranean cooking. It's related to oregano with a slightly different taste. Ever wonder why your favorite restaurant chicken kebabs taste so good? Chances are they used marjoram to season them. This herb improves the flavor of tomato sauce and salad dressings too. I have mad-love for marjoram. But like oregano, it's a strong herb, so a little goes a long way. I love it in this salad, but it's totally optional.
My second recommendation is to use good Greek feta. I use Krinos brand in this recipe. I find it in my local Middle Eastern market. It's not as sharp or salty as the supermarket kind. I like it infinitely better. It's aged in oak barrels, giving it a mellow, creamy and exceptional taste. What's a Greek salad without good feta, right? Seek out the good stuff if you can. Here's the link http://www.krinos.ca/products.asp?cat=1&subc=1.
The same rule applies to the olive oil, tomatoes and cucumbers. Use the freshest and best you can find. I was lucky enough to find tiny Lebanese cucumbers at the Middle Eastern market. They're tender with less seeds. If you're going to use regular, large cucumbers, I suggest peeling the skin.
Last but not least, I like using lemon instead of vinegar in most of my salads. My Lebanese grandmother taught me this. I like its fresh citrus taste. It's not as harsh as vinegar. But if you like vinegar in your salads, then go for it.
You can take this salad in other directions by adding pitted kalamata olives and/or green or red bell peppers. Have fun, experiment. It's quick, easy and healthy. Enjoy!
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 8 small cucumbers, chopped into bite size pieces. I used small Lebanese cucumbers. If you use large cucumbers then peel the the skins.
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano, rubbed between your fingers to release the flavor. I use Penzeys brand.
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried marjoram, rubbed between fingers to release the flavor. I use Penzeys brand which is infinitely better than anything you can find in the supermarket and more economical too. http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeysmarjoram.html (the marjoram is optional but good)
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Juice of half a large lemon, reserved
- 2-3 tablespoons of good olive oil. I used unfiltered extra virgin.
- 7 ounces of Greek feta, crumbled. I used Krinos brand (see above)
- Sea salt to taste. I used gray salt, be careful with the salt as the feta is salty
- Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
Place everything, except the lemon juice, in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice a little at a time. Taste. Adjust the seasoning and lemon juice to your liking and serve! Enjoy!