|I'd never get tired of American Greek Salad for a meatless lunch or dinner!|
(Republished with new photos and updated recipe, November 2011.) Here in the U.S. we're just about to head into what can be the most indulgent food week of the entire year. Although I try to encourage healthier holiday eating with my Low-Glycemic Thanksgiving Recipes, I know this is a time when making good choices can be a challenge. Personally I think it's okay to splurge a little on a holiday meal, because over the long haul healthy eating is all about balance. This long-time favorite recipe for American Greek Salad is something I first posted when I was a teacher about to go on summer vacation, but it's also a good choice when you need to balance out some heavier meals. I recommend this salad at my pick for Meatless Monday this week if you'd like to start the week with something that's tasty and fresh.
It's the addition of lettuce that makes this salad an American Greek Salad. In fact, when I went to Greece I discovered what I'd always called Greek Salad (with lettuce) didn't really exist there! Greek Salad in Greece (often called village salad) has cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, Kalamata olives, green pepper, and Feta with a dressing made from olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and seasoned with a little dried oregano. I used to be somewhat unenthusiastic about the onion and green bell pepper, but the last few years I've realized that thin slivers of those two vegetables add a lot of flavor to a salad like this. You can add or subtract ingredients based on what you prefer, but don't leave out the handful of lettuce if you're going to call this American Greek Salad.
(You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index. For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, where I write a weekly feature spotlighting one of the fabulous meatless recipes I find around the web.)
You can make authentic Greek Dressing if you like, but I usually use a small amount of purchased vinaigrette dressing that's kicked up a bit with lemon juice, caper juice, capers, and dried oregano. Make the dressing first so the flavors can blend.
Two ingredients you must not skip if you're making Greek Salad of any type are Feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Both of these are strongly flavored, so it doesn't take too much to add a lot of good Greek flavor.
I buy grape tomatoes and baby cucumbers year-round at Costco, so I always have them around to make this salad. Thinly slice the bell pepper and onions, and cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into bite-sized pieces.
Then add the Kalamata olives and Feta cheese and toss again. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and enjoy!
American Greek Salad
(Below are the amounts I'd use for two salads. Adjust the amounts of each ingredient for how many people you are serving and your own preferences.)
(I often start with Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing; choose dressing with not more than 2 grams of sugar per serving for South Beach Diet)
1/4 cup purchased vinaigrette dressing
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp. capers
1 tsp. caper juice
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
3 cups Romaine lettuce, broken into bite sized pieces, washed and dried
1 cup cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup green pepper, cut into thin slivers
1/4 cup red onion, cut into thin slivers
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, cut in half if desired (I like pitted olives for this)
1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
Whisk together the purchased vinaigrette, olive oil, lemon juice, caper juice, capers, and dried oregano and let the dressing stand while you prep other ingredients.
Break Romaine lettuce into bite sized pieces and wash well. (I use a salad spinner, but you can wash in a colander and dry with paper towels.) Cut up cucumbers and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and thinly slice red onion and green pepper.
In large salad bowl toss together lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers with about 3 tablespoons of dressing. Add crumbled Feta cheese and olives and toss again. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and enjoy.
Personally I have a strong preference for sheeps milk Feta in a salad like this, although truthfully I never met a Feta cheese I didn't like. To me, the sheeps milk Feta is creamier and a little milder. Whatever Feta you buy, try to avoid the pre-crumbled type; it simply does not last in the refrigerator. If you're lucky enough to have a FoodSaver machine which vacuum packs food in plastic bags, it's perfect for sealing those big blocks of feta, which is something I always have in my fridge.
South Beach Suggestions:
This would be a great main dish salad for the South Beach Diet or any other Low-Glycemic eating plan, although if you're in the early phases of South Beach you might want to use the feta cheese a bit sparingly. I also like Blue Cheese Dressing on this salad, and I buy a famous brand of blue cheese dressing and mix it half and half with buttermilk to make it more South Beach Diet friendly.
More Tasty Meatless Salads with Feta Cheese:
Spinach Salad Recipe with Marinated Garbanzo Beans and Feta Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Lime, Mint, and Feta from Kalyn's Kitchen
Green Bean, Tomato, and Feta Salad Oreganato from Kalyn's Kitchen
Joanne Weir's Cucumber and Feta Salad from David Lebovitz
Zucchini Feta Cheese Chopped Salad Slaw from Family Fresh Cooking
Quinoa Salad with Tomato, Feta, and Parsley from The Perfect Pantry