Woke up extremely early this morning after falling asleep around 9 pm trying to watch Fringe (my current obsession) on cable. I’ll confess. I was, as we say in Trinidad, trying to ‘play hero’, but when your brain has been running a mental treadmill for more than the usual 8 hours on your day job, it’s impossible. Sleep called, and I answered willingly.
So, refreshed and ready, the subject of Saturday breakfast came up.
I knew exactly what I was feeling for… a nice Greek salad. And odd choice, you say? Well, after eating my tasty cheese paste for the past work week, I definitely wanted a little rest from the bread. I first fell in love with the Greek salad right here at home at a beautiful restaurant – sadly, I cannot remember the name of it, or the location (I pray that’s not the beginnings of senility!) Yet, I can remember the setting, lots of green grass covered grounds, a lovely fountain on the outside and lots of oleanders, frangipani and poinsettias that kept dancing to the breeze. Inside were covered tables and chairs, and smiling serving ladies came to take your orders. I saw the Greek salad on the menu and almost bypassed it, but its trouble-free ingredients called out to me. They were described with such love. Plus, most of the ingredients were things I had in my fridge on any given day, except for the feta cheese of course. I just had to taste it and see how everything melded together. I was hooked after the first bite.
So I pulled out my salty feta cheese (there’s my cheese obsession coming to the fore again, hahaha), the tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and other players from my fridge. But I soon realised I was missing a few crucial stars in my Greek play, namely…
1) Red onion
2) Black Olives and
3) Fresh lemon.
However, I did possess regular yellow onions (which had a slight sweet bite to them), green olives and lime juice. As we say locally, “When you don’t have mammy, take granny.”
And so, with my reserve players, I began my Greek play. Will it be a tragedy or happy comedy? Let’s find out.
Here are some of the stars of my Greek adventure. Normally, I’d use romaine lettuce for my Greek salad, but, thanks to our rising food prices, I can no longer afford it. Iceberg will suffice today.
So, I began with the cucumbers. First I topped, tailed and peeled them, then cut them in half.
With a teaspoon, I scraped out the seeds.
|Then I cut each half into quarters.|
|And then into bite sized pieces.|
I set them aside before tackling the tomatoes.
These were simple. I just removed the stem end and cut them into four, then each quarter into three pieces. Voila!
Next, I sliced ¼ of an onion into very thin half moons. This is of course, what would have normally been done with the red onion.
After that, I peeled a few leaves off my head of iceberg lettuce, washed them, rolled them up and tore them into my waiting bowl.
|To replace the sweet pepper, I reached for my local pimentoes (which I then de-seeded and julienned). Here they are, resting with some fresh thyme and parsley.|
And now for the star of my Greek play, Madame Feta! *cheers and applause*
Now you could choose to cube it, but because it’s so delicate, what I usually do is take the point of my knife and twist off little shards.
Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? Now, on to the olives.
Just spoon about a ½ cupful or more into a small bowl. Normally I’d have a mix of both black and green olives, but either colour can work here.
Now for the assembly. Add the cucumbers and tomatoes…
Sprinkle in the onions and pimentoes…
Add the parsley.
In go the olives and feta, plus a little chive I had sliced thinly beforehand.
Toss lightly with a pair of tongs or two spoons till everything is mixed.
Spoon some into a serving bowl.
Then drizzle on a spoonful of the flavoured dressing.
And there you have it, my easy Greek salad. The recipe for this (with the original ingredients) is as follows:
Halcy’s Greek Salad
1 bunch romaine lettuce, washed and chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, deseeded in chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 medium tomatoes, chopped into a large dice
½ a red onion, sliced into half moons and separated
1 stalk chive, sliced finely
½ a red or green sweet pepper, julienned
½ to 1/3 cup of green olives, left whole
¼ cup black olives,
¾ cup of feta cheese, crumbled or cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of fresh thyme
Pinch of dried parsley
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Tiny pinch of salt (optional as the feta is already salty)
In a large bowl, place all the ingredients in the order they are listed, as in lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. Toss gently together.
In a smaller bowl, place all the dressing ingredients and whisk together or beat with a fork until just combined. (Tip: Let stand for a while at room temperature so all the flavours can meld.)
Serve individual portions and drizzle a tablespoon of dressing over each.
And that, as they say, is that. My Greek play was a success – I even went for an encore! Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this delicious Greek salad over the years. Despite not having red onion and black olives, the flavour quotient was still very high, plus, the sweetness from the tomatoes helped balance the saltiness of the cheese. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. There’s so many things going on at once with each bite with the sweet, salty, tangy and peppery… it’s just a delight for me.
Well, I must now take my leave to do some more work on my cookbook and then rest up and enjoy a little peep at the Food Network. So, till my next adventure, enjoy your days and nights and doh forget to mind de pot, my friends. Take care! :-)