Make it at Home – Horiatiki Salad
This traditional Greek salad is great for summer!
Χωριάτικη σαλάτα. What? You didn’t expect this piece to include a Greek vocabulary lesson? OK, well, you’re getting a little extra for your nickel today.
To say that my knowledge of the Greek language is a bit on the lacking side might be a very large understatement. As in, the only real Greek words I know are Opa and letters of the alphabet that sometimes end up in my daily crossword. I really should get out more. 😀
All right, so what does our mystery Greek phrase of the day translate into? If you guessed Horiatiki Salad, you would be today’s winner. 📝 Thanks to my friend, Tommy Kouvatsos. Tommy and his wife, Kay, own the Village Cafe. And, unlike me, he actually knows the language (and can use it!).
So, we’ve decoded our secret word. Now what? Let’s talk about what that salad is and, maybe more importantly, what it isn’t.
When foods, recipes, and dishes get imported here from around the globe, something happens to them. It doesn’t happen all the time. And, in fact, it’s happening less frequently with our growing respect for more “traditional” and “authentic” ethnic fare. But it still happens. We “Americanize” them.
Let’s run through a few examples in a quick lightning round. Ready? Here we go…
⚡Pizza, Tacos, Sushi, Pad Thai, Nachos, Chop Suey, General Tso’s Chicken, AND, yes, the Greek Salad. 🥗
The Horiatiki Salad is the “REAL” Greek Salad. It’s also called the “Village Salad” or “Peasant Salad.” What’s the difference between this simple Greek salad and its American wannabe counterpart? Lettuce. Yes, all of that lettuce filler is strictly a U.S. invention (also pepperoncini, radishes, and even anchovies 🐠).
In an attempt to make this perfectly delicious and uncomplicated salad “better,” we’ve gone ahead and turned it into a sometimes barely recognizable version of its former salad self. 😢
Not to worry, my Greek salad-loving friends. We are here to right this injustice. Yes, today we will give you the secrets to the REAL Greek Salad. An adaptation of the recipe below has been served up in Greece since the late 1800s. And as a little bonus, we will let you in on a few places around Sarasota where you can get the genuine article!
Hey, we made a little “How To” film for you. Sit back for a minute and a half and get an idea of what you’re getting into.
All right. Time for your recipe. Fortunately for you (and me), this is all pretty straightforward.
America’s Test Kitchen – The Complete Small Plates Cookbook
1 ¾ lb. ripe tomatoes, cored
1 ¼ tsp. table salt
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried oregano (plus extra for final seasoning)
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch strips
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
2 TBSP capers, rinsed
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for final drizzle)
1 8-ounce block of feta cheese, cut into ½-inch thick triangles
Cut tomatoes into ½ thick wedges. Cut wedges into half crosswise. Toss tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of salt and reserve in a colander set over a large bowl. Let drain for 30 minutes.
Place sliced onion in a bowl of ice water. Let sit for 15 minutes. While waiting, whisk vinegar, oregano, pepper, and ¾ teaspoon of salt together in a small bowl to make the “dressing.”
After the tomatoes have drained, discard the tomato juice and return the tomatoes to the bowl. Add vinegar dressing to the tomatoes. Add cucumbers, bell pepper, olives, and capers. Toss to combine. Drizzle with olive oil, toss gently to coat.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer salad to a serving platter. Top with feta cheese triangles. Season each slice of feta with some extra dried oregano and give a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve!
As we usually do with these Make it at Home pieces, it’s time to compare the outcomes. First, the pros at America’s Test Kitchen…
Now the amateur (me!) in my kitchen…
OK, I think I did pretty well! I know It’s JUST a salad. But we all have to take a little pride in our successes, no matter how tiny they might be.
Let’s see how this cooling summer salad ranks on our difficulty scale…
THE VERDICT: YES, you can make this at home! If you can do a little chopping, a bit of whisking, and a touch of tossing, you CAN make this salad. And you should!
We promised back up near the top of this piece that we’d run down a few places in town for you to get an authentic Horiatiki Salad. This is just in case you don’t want to dirty your own kitchen.
• Downtown Sarasota, Main, and Orange. Yes, they have this salad on their regular menu. + lots of other great Greek and Mediterranean dishes.
• In The Colonnade Shopping Center. Authentic Greek cuisine. This place will not break your budget!
• St. Armands Circle. Upscale Greek dishes. Opening a UTC location in late 2023!
• Listed on their menu as the “Greek County Salad.” You can even add your choice of protein to this version.
This cookbook has lots of delicious “small plate” recipes. Here are some additional details about the publication. 📚
TITLE: The Complete Small Plates Cookbook: 300+ Shareable Tapas, Meze, Bar Snacks, Dumplings, Salads, and More
PUBLICATION DATE: February 7, 2023
PAGES: 432 (300+ Recipes)
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