Romaine lettuce is one ingredient I love to use in many of my salads – in fact I truly enjoy a good Caesar as a side or main dish. However, with the E. coli outbreak linked to contaminated lettuce, my thoughts turn to another I enjoy – Greek Salad. This is one choice I might make when out for dinner or a quick lunch. But today, I thought, why not try to make it at home? Different cooks prepare it differently, most have the same ingredients but often the dressing differs – so I thought I’d try my own signature twist on the classic salad with ingredients I already had at home.
I try to buy local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Even with winter already upon us, I still managed to find some really nice Alberta grown Long English cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes at our local Sunterra Market. I also had local dill and basil I bought this summer from the University of Alberta Farm market. The Prodotti Dal Sole Organic first cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil from Tunisia came from The Italian Centre Shop based on a great recommendation from their staff.
My secret ingredient, which is not so secret anymore, is Evoolution’s Vermont Maple Dark Balsamic Vinegar. I just happened to have a bottle in my pantry that I’d yet to open and now seemed like a good time. Another secret to a great Greek Salad is to ensure all the vegetables are cut to the same size.
You might notice the obvious absence of large olives in the photo; that was one item my husband doesn’t eat, and forgot to pick up on his way home, so I added the few I had left from a can. Kalamata is the type of olive you’d likely find in a traditional Greek Salad. They’re usually big, brown or black with lots of meat on them. I prefer the Castelvetrano and would have added them if I had them. They’re plump, sweet and bright green. In fact I once heard the colour described as having a Kermit—green hue. After a little research, I’m not sure if the colour refers to Kermit the Frog green or Aston Martin Kermit Green as described in encycolorpedia.
For your salad, you can use any olive you want. If you want to try something new and you’re located in Edmonton or Calgary, The Italian Centre Shop also has a great selection on hand; if you ask nicely, they’ll even let you try a sample.
For the salad you’ll need:
- 2 or 3 Heirloom or package grape tomatoes
- 1 Long English cucumber
- 1/2 Red or green pepper
- 1 Package crumbled feta cheese
- Optional 1 small red onion
- Optional pitted olives
- 4 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- 2 Tbsp. Maple Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. White or red vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill
- 1 Tbsp. fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
- 1 Clove garlic minced
- 1/2 cup Feta Cheese (crumbled)
Cut the veggies roughly the same size. I suggest cutting the cucumber into four pieces, then cut them lengthwise and then in wedges. Cut your tomatoes in half and then into 1/2-inch pieces- or match the others.
Mix all of the ingredients for the dressing and toss over the vegetables. If you actually have leftovers, which we won’t, you can keep it for a few days in the fridge.
So if you have no romaine, no problem, try this lettuce-free Greek Salad with a Maple Twist with your next meal.
As an aside, I would have called this column Greek Salad with a Canadian Twist, but for the EVOO Vermont Maple Syrup. Perhaps next time, I might just infuse a little Quebec maple syrup into the mix or when I run out of EVOO, just to change it up a little.
Try the recipe; tell me how you like it.
Elaine “ Lainey” Baram, aka Consumer Girl, is an informed shopper. She does the research, asks the right questions and helps make sense in the consumer world. Lainey can be reached on her new blog ConsumerGirl.com.