A few weeks ago, a new restaurant opened up in my neck of the woods. Heyday is a superb breakfast/lunch joint with a tasty, fresh menu consisting of in-season items (not necessarily a surprise considering its chef is a Chez Panisse alum). I’ve had the opportunity to stop in for lunch a few times and some of the best menu items are their salads- specifically the farro salad with meyer lemon and asparagus, which I’m slightly obsessed with.
Combine all this salad exposure with a few toasty days last week and I started craving a simple salad I could throw in my fridge and chomp on at will. Enter: Greek Salad. Historically I’ve made a pasta version, but I think making the cucumbers a main ingredient brightens up the salad and makes it perfect for a side OR a main meal (add some grilled/baked chicken and you’re set), without the added carb heaviness on a warm day.
For the dressing:
6 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/2-1 clove garlic (I run mine through a presser, but if you don’t mind larger chunks feel free to chop it up)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
For the salad:
1 cucumber, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup of kalamata olives (I buy the pitted kind and rough chop them. You can also use black olives if the kalamata flavor is a bit too strong for you.)
1/2 cup (generous) of feta cheese (I have also substituted chopped fresh mozzarella and been EXTREMELY PLEASED.)
Basil garnish, if desired
1. Whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, garlic and oregano. If desired, season with salt and pepper. I generally exclude much added salt to the dressing since feta cheese tends to be fairly salty. (Note: I prefer my dressing to run slightly more acidic in order to really flavor the cucumber. If you find that you can’t stand a strong vinegar flavor, start with 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and then increase the amount to your taste.)
2. Combine all your salad items: cucumber, tomatoes, olives and feta (plus the basil if you decided to add it). Toss with the dressing.
I like to chill the salad for at least an hour or two to let the dressing sink in to the veggies. After it’s well-marinated and cold, I re-toss and sprinkle with a little more feta on top.
Another tip: although I didn’t have any on hand, I often add some red or sweet onions. After dicing, I add them to the dressing for a little while to let them absorb the flavor and allow the acid in the vinegar/lemon to cut their heat. Then simply combine them into the veggies together with the dressing.