The Greeks love a salad that embodies everything about a Mediterranean diet: greens, freshness, olive oil and the zest of a lemon, or perhaps balsamic vinegar. With large servings and an almost non-existent concept of a completely vegetarian diet, the Greeks however do love filling up their plates with salads and all things green, accompanying a hefty serving of meat or fish. So, today I bring to you some popular Greek salads and leave you with this wonderful quote by the first century CE biographer, Plutarch, “We do not sit at the table to eat… but to eat together.”
The HortaSalata comes in many forms and shapes as one of the most frequented salads of any Greek table. You can literally toss up any of your favourite greens with a hint of olive oil and lemon dressing and voila! You have a hortasalata.
½ kg kalmishaak or water spinach
3/4 cup lemon juice or you may use ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
¼ cup of both roasted walnuts and cashews (you can also use pine nuts)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese or Dhaka poneer
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano, ½ coriander or 1 tbsp parsley
Red chilli flakes
Salt to taste
If you have fresh, organic Lal Shaak or Red Amaranth, you can use that instead of spinach and follow the same procedures.
Blanch the spinach and kalmi (or laalshak) separately in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds each. Leave them in a colander and let the water drain out. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice (you may use the lemon juice according to your tastes, depending on how sour you want it to be), oregano, coriander/parsley, seasonings and mix it up for about 1 minute.
Leave it refrigerated for about 5 minutes then mix it up again. Add this to the greens and mix them up well. Roast the nuts until reddish then chop them up and mix them with the salad. In case you want to use balsamic vinegar then mix up the olive oil with the seasonings and after mixing up the salads, drizzle the balsamic vinegar on top.
Serve it with toasted brown bread with a drizzle of olive oil on top and sprinkle the crumbled cheese generously on the salad.
A salad that combines a unique blend of yoghurt and beetroots – Pantzarosalata is a traditional Greek delicacy.
About 5 medium sized beetroots
About ½ kg thick yoghurt
1 garlic clove paste
6 walnut kernels, crushed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped coriander or parsley
Salt to taste
Boil the beetroots till they are soft enough to be consumed as a salad then peel them and set aside. Mix the yoghurt with the rest of the seasonings except the vinegar. Add the beetroot and mix lightly then start slowly pour the vinegar on top of this and continue mixing. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and serve it cold!
This versatile salad can also be consumed as a dip with a range of chopped vegetables like carrots or cucumbers or even a crispy piece of bread. Rich in fibre, calcium, Iron, vitamins A and C, beetroots are a champion of a health food and helps the body form enzymes that encourage the formation of antioxidants, particularly glutathione peroxidase, as well as white blood cells.
A typical Greek salad is basically called a simple country salad, or 'horiatiki'. This salad is a merry mélange of tomatoes, olives (the Kalamata ones specially), cucumbers, onions, feta cheese and perhaps capers or bell peppers. Since this salad is often consumed in the summers and lettuce, or marouli, ideally grows in the winters, a typical Greek salad will come sans lettuce. Ingredeints
½ red onion, thick slices
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
8-10 small tomatoes or about 15 cherry tomatoes
2 cucumbers, chopped in cubes
1 small carrot, grated (this to add some sweetness, although it is not part of the original recipe, where instead, sugar is sometimes added)
10-15 kalamata olives, or black olives, preferably with the pit still inside
1 large bell pepper or 2 jalapenos, finely chopped, or pickled jalapenos
Large bunch of lettuce, shred into large pieces
A generous pinch of dried oregano
150g feta cheese or Dhaka poneer
Everything about this salad is meant to retain its flavour and its appearance therefore, olives which look soft or cucumbers looking wobbly will not do. Hence, the non-pitted olives. Mix all the ingredients together and serve it chilled. This salad retains its flavours best when served fresh and refrigerate it to ensure that it remains crunchy.