The basic ingredients of a Greek Salad
You will find that a Greek Salad can vary slightly. However the basic ingredients usually include:
Optional ingredients are lettuce, herbs, olive oil, cucumber and crusty bread. The exact quantities of each ingredient depend upon your taste. The Greeks will often utilise what is in season and vary the ingredients accordingly.
How to make a Greek Salad
To make an authentic Greek salad you only need to assemble the few salad ingredients, cheese, olives and a few optional extras. Of course eating it Al Fresco in beautiful, sunny surroundings will always help.
If you are using lettuce, start your salad off with a layer of this. Try to use a lettuce such as Cos or Iceberg as it will be crisp, tasty and juicy.
Tomatoes are one of the vital ingredients of a good Greek Salad. They will preferably be really plump, juicy and fresh ones, which you can either slice thinly or cut into quarters.
Raw Salad or red onions give a great flavour and add bite to this dish. These onions should be sliced thinly and laid on top of the salad just under the cheese.
Black or green pitted olives are a must. Buy Greek style black olives for the authentic look and taste of a Greece. If you were eating this salad in Greece, depending which region you were in, you would be served black or green olives, or occasionally both but they would not be pitted.
Feta is quite a smelly cheese which probably is an acquired taste. Personally I love it; the smellier the better. At home I suppose you could replace the Feta with a cheese of your own choice but then your salad would only really be a cheese salad. If you are unsure ask your grocer for one of the milder Feta cheeses which are available these days. Either cut your favourite Feta cheese into cubes or alternatively serve the salad with one large wedge of Feta placed on the top.
A sprinkling of fresh oregano gives the right flavour and aroma.
Drizzle pure extra virgin olive oil over the top of the Greek Salad for a perfect finish. If this is done by the diner, to their individual serving, it will be easy to pour on the desired amount. Sometimes in tavernas in Greece, a Greek Salad arrives already laden with olive oil. In my case this will usually mean that it has too much oil on it.
Other optional extras
I usually add Cucumber, which has been cut into cubes, but you can slice it thinly if preferred. Ideally accompany the meal with a fresh, crusty white loaf of bread cut into thick slices and served with butter if preferred.
Of course, as we said, the other essential accompaniment is a glass of Retsina, which will add to the Greek ambiance.
In tourist tavernas in Greece and the Greek Islands a Greek Salad tends to be a starter though staff are usually happy if a couple dining share one portion.