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Traditional Greek Recipe: How To Make The Perfect Greek Village Salad (Horiatiki Salata)
Greek village salad, or how Greeks call it "Horiatiki", is a major dish of Greek cuisine and considered to be essential to accompany every Greek meal. Especially when the vegetables are fresh, like during summer, a Greek salad is standard on table. It combines various fresh vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and feta cheese, thus providing a nutritious and fullfilling meal.
Greek salad is not hard to make, in fact it is made just moments before the family joins the table; the vegetables must be cut not long before the salad is consumed, because the onion could start smelling bad if exposed on air for long.
The ingredients required for a complete Greek village salad are not hard to acquire, except if you are in a region where you cannot find feta cheese or virgin olive oil. My personal suggestion is, if you cannot buy feta cheese (the original, Greek one and not the various white cheeses from Denmark or Netherlands which have nothing to do with real feta cheese) or virgin olive oil, do not attempt to make it. A Greek salad without virgin olive oil to dip bread in is simply no Greek salad. That doesn't mean that you won't be making a decent nutritious salad even if you do not have those ingredients, though.
- 2 tomatoes, ripe but not soft, large ones
- 1 onion
- 1-2 peppers
- 1 cucumber, large
- 50-100 g feta cheese
- 50-100 mL olive oil, preferably extra virgin
- 5-10 olives
- oregano,salt, to taste
- croutons, optional
- Place some paper at the bottom of a salad bowl or large deep plate. The paper will absorb most of the fluids from tomatoes, if they are too ripe.
- Wash all vegetables carefully with cold water. Peel the cucumber and onion, remove the top of the peppers and tomatoes.
- Cut the tomatoes in half, then in half again. Depending on the size, you can cut the pieces in half inside your bowl. If tomatoes have many fluids, allow the paper to absorb most of them and then remove it.
- Cut the onion in half, then cut each half in large pieces. Place it in the bowl.
- Cut the peppers, either in slices or vertically.
- Slice the cucumber and put it in the bowl too.
- At this time, mix the vegetables and salt them. We salt now, because the next additions are already salted.
- Add the olives and the feta cheese. You can either add a large piece of feta, or cut it in smaller ones. If you decide to crumble it, it is OK too, though generally in Greece it isn't done this way.
- If you want to add croutons, this is the time. Add oregano on top of the salad, then pour the olive oil.
- Serve the salad, with a large spoon for mixing it up. Do not mix it before you serve. It will be mixed on table.
Some Tips And Instructions
It must be noted now that not all ingredients are obligatory; for example, you can skip the olives if you really can't have them. However, some ingredients which are essential to it cannot be skipped, for example you should not replace olive oil with another type of oil. This might sound weird, but with a village salad what is typically done is that all olive oil and veggies fluids are dipped with bread. If you find it normal to dip bread in large quantities of another oil, for example sunflower oil, think again - olive oil adds no cholesterol to your body and although it is fattening, in fact it is extremely healthy. Other oils are simply not suitable.
Feta cheese is another necessity of a Greek salad. Feta is a white cheese with intense flavor and salty taste which is made from sheep and goat's milk. If you want, you can substitute with some kind of other white cheese for example goat's; nevertheless, you can name the salad to something else, because it isn't Greek anymore.
The sizes and shapes of the cutted vegetables don't really mater much. Feel free to have smaller pieces of them and also feel free to crumble the feta inside if so you want. This way the flavors would blend more nicely too. What matters is the freshness of the ingredients; a too ripe tomato will flood the bowl with its watery juices especially if they are not drained away with some paper. Also, a not so fresh onion or pepper will not be crunchy and would not add to the perfect texture feeling.
Greek village salad is a special salad because it can substitute a whole meal on its own - vegetables, fibers, protein and fat are all in it. In addition, it is a fresh, unprocessed meal, good for your health and body. If you have added much olive oil and you dip much bread in it, it is not exactly light, however. The calories intake will not be low so in these circumstances it is not a salad suitable for people on diet.
Last but not least, I will provide you with a changed recipe, or more like another serving idea:
When the salad is ready, bake it in the oven in medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. This totally altered Greek baked village salad will add a different touch on your table.
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