Greek salad: packed with nutrients and ideal for summer
Time: prep. 10 mins
Difficulty: very easy
Yields: 2 portions
Greek salad is an ideal choice for hot summer days.
When it is exhausting to approach the stove, eating healthy and well becomes a mirage: we often order the ready-made food full of every evil; or we skip the main meals, however, exaggerating with snacks and snacks full of fat, sugar and free radicals.
The refreshing feature of this famous and popular dish is not the only merit:
– making Greek salad is child’s play (in fact, it was my job as a child);
– the cost is really negligible (if you put little cheese as suggested by CHE);
– it is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so it is ideal for replacing what is lost from the body through sweating;
– and if you want, it can also be a vegan Greek salad, in case you opt for feta without cow’s milk.
Using a reduced amount of cheese or buying vegan feta, are useful actions to reduce environmental impact. But we can do more!
To make Greek salad a true jewel of sustainability and ethics, we provide our own supply of vegetables by preferring the small scale producers.
As I explained in the article titled “Tomato Revolution“,the living condition of seasonal farm workers is the determining factor in the true goodness of any meal.
In case you are lucky to have access to farmers’ markets, or direct sales from the producer, or the buying groups found in many large cities over the world, you normally do not run the risk of having on your conscience the “modern slavery”: a condition that afflicts an impressive number of agricultural workers (often immigrants without documents).
We consumers can show our outrage by refusing to buy tomato stained with the suffering of the weak.
Let us eat maybe 1 instead of 2, but let us support the local economy and the small scale producer, even if it costs a little more: better for humanity and the planet
If you consider my work important, your support is crucial:
a small donation will carry on the Revolution!
The most common ingredients found in every cuisine of the Mediterranean basin take on a perfect harmony in Greek salad: the sweetness of summer tomatoes enhances the sour taste of feta, while the freshness of cucumbers refreshes the palate after the pungent taste of onions.
But it’s not all about the natural goodness of the ingredients; in Greek salad there is an abundance of minerals and vitamins that the body loses copiously during the hottest hours through sweating.
Tomatoes provide us with vitamins A, C, K and folic acid, minerals such as potassium and are the major source of lycopene (a powerful antioxidant), useful in fighting free radicals and preventing cancer.
Cucumber fills us up with electrolytes (especially potassium and magnesium), which is great always considering the liquid loss through sweating; it contains mostly water (136 g out of 142 g of cucumber to be exact), so it hydrates the body without weighing it down (it has very low calories). What’s more, its peels are useful for treating the skin (it moisturizes and relieves signs of aging, but also sunburns): don’t be frightened if, while preparing Greek salad, you see me with my face covered in cucumber peels!
Peppers also give us large amounts of Vitamin C, A, B, E, K; and folic acid along with phenolic compounds, which are very useful in strengthening the immune system.
Onions, it is known, have been considered a panacea for thousands of years in various civilizations. Among the top features I can list its richness in antioxidants and phenolic compounds, vitamins but also prebiotics, allies in preserving good gut health and consequently the overall health of the individual.
Instead, organic acids present in the form of lemon and vinegar, improve the absorption of mineral salts.
Extra virgin olive oil is part of the good fats and even if used in insignificant amounts, it manages to provide us with a good dose of antioxidants, vitamins E and K, as well as monounsaturated fatty acids, which the body needs to lead a healthy and strong existence.
Traditionally, feta is made from sheep’s milk, with or without the addition of goat’s milk (normally the proportion is 70 – 30). Compared to cows, the carbon footprint of these small animals is better; and their milk is more digestible, although richer in fat and protein: beta-casein A1, a form of casein believed to be responsible for inflammation, is present in far greater amounts in cow’s milk; in contrast, beta-casein A2, believed to be the most digestible casein , is present mainly in goat’s milk et similia; in addition to the fact that sheep’s milk contains more calcium and zinc than conventional (cow’s) milk.
And to top it off, there is the magic of umami in this dish full of colors and scents.
Tomatoes, which are the richest ones in all plant kingdom  and feta are two of the foods naturally rich in umami: who knows, maybe that’s the reason why those who are familiar with Greek salad, during summer would like to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Summer precisely, not every day of the year: and here I would like to emphasize the importance of eating seasonally. For a long time we have been finding both tomatoes and cucumbers for sale in winter as well, at prices that are not at all excessive; my sincere advice, however, is to use this recipe only in the summer months. Not only because the unmistakable flavor of seasonal vegetables is unbeatable and non-reproducible, but their cultivation out of season, possesses a significant impact on the environment and health: the veggies of Greek salad, may contain much more pesticide residues (learn more here).
Ladies and gentlemen here is the original recipe for “Horiatiki,” or better known as… Greek salad.
Ingredients for the Greek salad
1 large, ripe tomato
1 fresh (and crispy) cucumber
1 onion (best if it is red)
1 or 2 long green peppers, or half a bell pepper (preferably green)
80 grams of PDO(Protected Designation of Origin) feta cheese
approx. 10 black olives
2 tablespoons of evo oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 pinch of oregano
1 pinch of sumac (optional, but in my opinion it goes divinely with the onions)
a few mint leaves (optional, but highly recommended to combat the smell of the onion)
salt to taste (not necessary: both the olives and the feta are already beyond salty)
If you are a complete disaster in kitchen, you will love Greek salad: I usually only share easy recipes with you, but never as easy as this one!
Wash the vegetables well and roughly chop them inside individual salad bowls.
Mix the lemon juice, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl to make a stable emulsion.
Dress the vegetables with the newly prepared sauce.
Add 40 g of cheese to each salad bowl, divide the black olives on each plate, sprinkle with oregano and if you want sumac.
The horiatiki or Greek salad is ready.
Greek salad, even with a modest portion of cheese as I suggested, manages to be a complete meal, in spite of the complex carbohydrates. So I might recommend adding a slice of rye or spelt bread, perhaps homemade with sourdough; or some sort of piadina (flat bread), again homemade with rustic flours, using excess yogurt or kefir close to best-before date.
A Good bread (which is often never the kind sold in supermarkets) not only satiates and delights the palate, but also provides an excellent source of prebiotics: fuel for probiotics, which are essential for a good immune system (to learn more I recommend you this article).
Last but not least, you will be happy to know that the Greek salad as proposed by me is low in calories, that means you could even pair it with a healthy and equally light ice cream like this one here.
Enjoy your Greek salad and good revolution to all
1) Küllenberg de Gaudry D, Lohner S, Schmucker C, et al. Milk A1 β-casein and health-related outcomes in humans: a systematic review. Nutr Rev. 2019;77(5):278-306.
2) Yin Zhang, Zhongli Pan, Chandrasekar Venkitasamy, Haile Ma, Yunliang Li,
Umami taste amino acids produced by hydrolyzing extracted protein from tomato seed meal,
Food Science and Technology, Volume 62, Issue 2, 2015, Pages 1154-1161, ISSN 0023-6438