What is greek salad?
In Greece, salad is called “horiatiki salad” (Greek spelling: χωριάτικη σαλάτα), which roughly translates as “farmer’s salad” or “village salad”. It is a refreshing salad consisting of crispy cucumber, ripe tomatoes, kalamata olives, salty feta and a dressing of oil, vinegar and oregano.
The most surprising thing about an authentic Greek salad is that the feta is placed on top of the salad in a large slice. Most people prefer to eat the cheese evenly distributed over the salad, so you get a salty piece with every bite. This is why the cheese is mixed in cubes or crumbs throughout the dish in Greek restaurants outside the country.
Many types of regional white cheese are made in Greece, so in some towns and villages, feta is replaced with the local favourite.
Did you know?
There is no lettuce in an authentic Greek salad.
How to make greek salad
Each ingredient must be of good quality and in season or the salad won’t be a success. Inexpensive, soapy black olives can easily ruin the dish, as well as rock-hard winter tomatoes or dried oregano that has been in the kitchen cupboard for three years.
The chef slices ripe tomatoes and cucumber into equal-sized pieces and mixes them with black kalamata olives, preferably unstoned. Optional ingredients that are typically Greek, but not mandatory, include onion, green pepper and capers. Some chefs first marinate their onion in the red wine vinegar, which is later used to the dressing; this removes the sharp edge from the raw onion and makes the dish milder. The salad is dressed with good Greek olive oil, red wine vinegar and Greek oregano and a slice of feta is placed on top.
How to eat
A Greek salad should be served in a shallow dish with crispy bread. Not pita bread but a baguette or ciabatta. Dip a slice of bread in the bowl so that it can soak up the juices, oil and vinegar at the bottom and then get stuck in. Dipping your bread this way is called “papara” and is an authentic Greek custom. (However, be careful because “papara” is also a swear word meant for men who aren’t very nice.)
Since a Greek salad is really only at its best when the tomatoes are ripe, it is a real summer dish. Make it a real Greek picnic by serving dishes, such as spanakopita, dolmades and keftedes, Greek dips and extra bread.