Nordic Greek Salad with Garlicky Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Editor’s Note: Standing in as author for the original Odinist Gourmet again, as with A SANDWICH FIT FOR A QUEEN… POULET REINE ELIZABETH A.K.A. “CORONATION CHICKEN”  in our last issue. However, our Odinist Gourmet is contemplating adding a new, and terribly exotic, Scottish recipe to this very issue, and we are very much looking forward to it!

A hybrid horiatiki...close to authentic Greek Salad but with smaller chunks of feta

A hybrid horiatiki…close to authentic Greek Salad but with smaller chunks of feta

For Summer, we have Mediterranean style Greek salad, or ελληνική σαλάτα. Now this is not a real Greek salad, primarily because that does not have lettuce, while ours does. The authentic Greek salad is called horiatiki, meaning “village or country salad“. It is a wild, rustic sort of salad that is not stirred. Its central feature is a large rectangular chunk of feta cheese, which often is made of goat, or combined sheep and goat, cheese, that has been marinated in fresh olive oil and herbs.

Greek Salad with a View...

Greek Salad with a View…

Often, traditional Greek salad will have nothing to accompany it but red onions, sliced peppers, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, and more olive oil sprinkled over it, often with herbs. It is insanely delicious and highly recommended, but ingredients such as goat feta can be hard to find in Northern Europe, America, Australia, etc. and greens are healthy too, so we are going to give you directions for a more Northerly version, that includes lettuce, but still contains many elements of the hearty original.

One cannot always visit a Greek taverna, but this salad is best served outside...

One cannot always visit a Greek taverna, but this salad is best served outside…

What kind of lettuce you use is up to your own personal taste.. For particularly fresh lettuces, one can grow one’s own salad leaves relatively easily. There are many varieties of greens available, such as lollo rosso, butter crunch, and arugula, and now one can even decorate one’s salad with edible flowers, for instance nasturtium and viola, often available in salad mixes at local grocery stores.  None of the typical salad greens are more full of nutrients than spinach, so including spinach leaves is a good idea.

An Interesting Version of Greek Salad with Blackberries, Pine Nuts, and Spinach. Don't be Afraid to Experiment!

An Interesting Version of Greek Salad with Blackberries, Pine Nuts, and Spinach. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment!

We may not often have the authentic goat or sheep/goat feta available, but cow’s milk feta is very good too, and there is no reason why one cannot marinate the feta cheese in the salad dressing mixture beforehand if one wishes to. One also can use any type of vinegar one wishes to in one’s dressing, but balsamic vinegar is particularly nice. Olive oils come in many varieties as well, and sometimes they are infused with garlic, basil, or other herbs, but the important thing is to get cold pressed organic oil that has not been chemically processed. Extra virgin refers to the first cold pressing.

Spanish Olive Tree at Freyja Hof, Hawai`i. Photo: Seana Fenner

Spanish Olive Tree at Freyja Hof, Hawai`i. Photo: Seana Fenner

Selecting an olive oil can be a serious business (-:, so much so that there are olive oil tasting parties and competitions, which resemble wine tastings.. The scandal of the moment is that many extra virgin olive oils have been found to be fake or adulterated with inferior oils as fillers. 60 Minutes recently aired an episode on this issue. Other sources have gone to a great deal of trouble to identify which olive oils are as presented and which are not more specifically. As with the lettuce, if one has a green house or the proper climate, one can grow and press one’s own olives, and make enough for an entire family all year long with a couple olive trees and a press which costs approximately $100 U.S.

Olive oil tastings have become very trendy...

Olive oil tastings have become very trendy…

Like olives, tomatoes are not a vegetable, but a fruit which has to be fresh. Tomatoes which are fresh, ripe, organic, and non GMO can be difficult to find, and harder to grow than most vegetables. If you cannot find good tomatoes, organic strawberries or raspberries make a surprisingly good substitute. One can also use sun dried tomatoes if one wishes.

Embellished with fresh pressed olive oil... Real Greek Salad...

Embellished with fresh pressed olive oil… Real Greek Salad…

Salad recipes always can be altered to fit one’s personal tastes, for example, I hate cucumbers, so I never include them, but I often do include warm caramelized sweet onions, added just before serving. Sometimes I add different colored heirloom peppers, which are very attractive and nutritious, or avocados and pecans. For Roman- style Greek salad, chickpeas are very tasty.

Ingredients, Salad Dressing, and Salad Preparation

-Virgin cold pressed olive oil

-Balsamic vinegar

-Garlic, to taste, crushed or pounded in a mortar and pestle, raw

-Mixed Italian herbs

-Favorite Greens

-Other fruits, vegetables, beans, or nuts. Standard ingredients are tomatoes, olives, red onions, and cucumbers.

-Feta cheese

-(optional) Dedicated container for dressing. For example, empty balsamic vinegar bottles can be very attractive to place dressing in if making in advance. Never put dressing on salad until shortly before serving it.

-Garlic press or mortar and pestle (better).

1). Peel and crush garlic, preferably with mortar and pestle, because this is far easier to do, and works better than a garlic press.

2). Add garlic to olive oil and balsamic vinegar. In general use twice as much olive oil as vinegar. Amount depends on personal taste and size of salad.

3). Mix in dried Italian herbs. Fresh grown herbs also can be used.

4). If one wishes to marinate the feta cheese, one will probably need a medium sized bowl or glass storage container. Feta cheese is often sold already crumbled or in chunks, and if it is not, it needs to be crumbled or cut up, because cow milk feta is not the same consistency as goat cheese feta, and is not meant to be served as a large chunk.  To marinate, simply add the feta cheese to the dressing mixture, and store in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, or even a couple days. One can sometimes find ready-made marinated feta made from cow’s cheese in stores in America and Europe, especially in Denmark, and this also can be used.

5).When ready to serve, add dressing to salad greens after placing the greens in a large dry bowl. It is important to remember that leaves must be dry. If they are not, use a cloth or paper towel to dry them. If they are not dry, the salad oil in the dressing will not stick to the leaves properly. For the same reason, never add wet ingredients (such as tomatoes) to the salad leaves before the dressing. This will also keep the dressing from sticking to the salad leaves, and we want the dressing to stick to the greens.

6). Add whatever other salad ingredients you prefer, for example, avocados, fresh heirloom organic tomatoes (or substitute berries), pecans, or even warm caramelized sweet onions.  Some may wish to add peppers or red onions (sliced raw, or roasted in olive oil),  cucumbers, and olives, as in the authentic Greek version.

7). Mix thoroughly and serve..

 Καλή όρεξη!

Bon Appétit!

Bon Appétit!

©2016 Odinia 

All Rights Reserved

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