|My Big Fabulous Greek Salad
|This rich multi-coloured salad, accompanied with a lean piece of Barbequed meat, fish or chicken makes an easy, delicious summer meal that will surely tantalize everyone’s taste buds and cool their hot and hearty appetite.
The French have a saying: ‘le plaisir de la table commence par celui des yeux’ (the pleasure of the table starts with the pleasing of the eye)
6 firm ripe Plum (Roma) Tomatoes
1 large Long English Cucumber
1 medium Red Onion
1 of each small Yellow/Orange/Red/Green Bell Pepper
1 cup (500 grams) Goats Feta Cheese
12 or more Kalamata Olives
½ cup (250 grams) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Course Ground Black Pepper to taste
Wash and dry off all vegetables, except onion.
Cut the vegetables into uniform size pieces.
Cut tomatoes into wedges.
Peel cucumber using a potato peeler alternating strips, (stripe effect) cut lengthwise in half and slice into chunks.
Peel onion and cut into square chunks.
De-seed peppers and cut into square chunks.
Place these ingredients into a large salad bowl. Top with chunks of “crumbled” feta cheese, sprinkle with oregano and olives.
Cover and let salad sit at room temperature for 1 hour. When ready to serve pour olive oil evenly over salad and toss well, add more oil if desired. Goat’s feta is quite salty, let your guests taste the salad before adding more. Grind fresh pepper over top if desired.
The origin of the name Oregano comes from ancient Greece, Origanum Vulgaris, often known as Wild Marjoram. This herb is very popular in the Northern part of the Mediterranean where it grows wild. Greek oregano is very spicy and is by far the best oregano in the world. It has a flavor so intense it numbs the end of the tongue when fresh. Greek oregano has medicinal properties and a special affinity with tomato. It is often used in sauces and stews.
Peppers are not to be confused with the spice that we grind and use as seasoning. Peppers grow on a stubby plant in the nightshade family and come in many varieties categorized as either sweet or hot. Bell peppers aren’t just green. Purple, yellow, red, orange, and chocolate are delightful alternatives to green. They represent the mature stage of green pepper and contain higher levels of sugar, beta-carotene and vitamin C than the less mature green stage. Orange and yellow peppers are the sweetest, and their bright colour brings attention anywhere they are used.
Feta is one of the oldest cheeses in the world. This classic Greek cheese is traditionally made of sheep or goat’s milk, though today large commercial producers often make it using cow’s milk. Feta cheese is cured and stored in its own salty whey brine and packaged in traditional wooden barrels, tin vessels or small containers. Feta is a solid mass cheese with no rind and few uneven holes. It is white, pleasant in flavor, lightly sour and rich in aroma. Feta belongs to the category of soft cheese and is often referred to as pickled cheese. Sheep’s feta is strong and rich (high in fat) while goat feta makes for a strong game flavored product. Cow’s feta has a milder flavor.
For thousands of years, Greek olives have been a basic component in the Mediterranean diet dating back to Crete 3500 BC in the early Minoan times. The Greeks love olives, which, either as an appetizer or supplement, are considered a necessary daily nutrient. Olives are unique, pure and natural. Appreciated for heart and cardiovascular health, olives are a good source of provitamin A, B1, B2, C, and include iron and calcium. Rich in monounsaturated fat, each olive provides less than 10 calories. The bitter element “oleuropein” stimulates the appetite.
Red is the colour of passion and passion is what these tomatoes are all about. Good quality Roma’s are small pear shaped tomatoes also called Plum or Italian tomatoes. They are firm and smooth skinned, bright, fleshy and bursting with flavor, they also have few seeds. Although they are used as vegetables, tomatoes are actually fruits and are members of the nightshade family of plants. There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes. While red is the most common, tomatoes can also be yellow, green, pink or orange. Tomatoes are an excellent source of mixed carotenoids and lycopene, which possess multiple antioxidant benefits. They are a good source of vitamin C and the minerals potassium and calcium, uncooked they provide the body with vitamin E. Food for thought…if you refrigerate Roma tomatoes they lose their flavor.
Long English Cucumbers
The cucumber is a gourd, the same family as the pumpkin, zucchini and other squashes. The Long English Cucumber also known as “Hothouse, European Greenhouse, or Dutch Greenhouse.” They are also known as “burp less” as they contain fewer seeds than other varieties. Cucumbers are widely used for salads. They contain small amounts of provitamin A and C, which is mostly in the skin. They are usually shrink-wrapped in plastic to retain moisture. Long English cucumbers have a crisp, cool, moist consistency and are exceptionally high in water content (95%). The inner temperature of a cucumber can be 20 degrees cooler than the outside air, hence the term “cool as a cucumber”.
Red onions also known as “Spanish Onions” are a bulbous fleshy underground vegetable related to the Lily family. Red Onions are medium to large in size and have a purplish red skin and red-tinged white flesh with a mild, sweet flavor. Onions eaten raw have reputation for multiple health benefits. In addition to vitamins C and B6, they contain phosphorous, magnesium, sulphur, flavonoids and several phytochemicals including allicin, known to ward off viruses, bacteria and fungus. Onions are the “Queen of Vegetables”