Up until we went to Greece, I typically thought of Greek salad as rather blah. With bland produce and a basic dressing, about the only thing the salad had going for it was the feta cheese (give me all the feta!!). And then, in Santorini, I had the most life-changing Greek salad ever. Literally, my life will never be the same (you can see the salad here). I have visions of this salad while I eat lunch, or nightly dreams where I'm back in Santorini eating it, and to this day I can still taste the sweet, crisp vegetables, the crunchy bread, and the salty feta all topped off with the slightest hint of oregano. The vegetables alone would have been life changing. They were literally bursting with juicy flavor unlike any I had ever experienced (even homegrown) and the green pepper (which I'm normally not a fan of) tasted like candy. Now, every time we go to a Greek restaurant, I order a Greek salad, in the hopes that it will somehow magically be like the one in Santorini, and every time I'm so let down by the plate they bring out, that I just want to send the plate back. I've informed Mr. RC that the only remedy to this problem is to go back to Santorini so I can get my Greek salad fill (and hoard about 50 pounds of it back on the plane). He had to go and be all practical and suggested I just recreate it at home. Obviously, my idea is much better, but to tide me over I'll go with his idea. Of course, it's not exactly identical (the vegetables aren't quite up to par in flavor and mine is missing scallions), but this Greek salad is still, most definitely, life changing.
Kalamata or Greek mix olives
Bread (I like to use a rustic or Italian style)
First, make the "croutons". I like to use a cast iron skillet, but a regular skillet would work as well. Place the pan on a burner turned to medium heat. Add in some olive oil, and let it heat for a couple minutes before adding the bread. Toss the bread in the oil, and cook for a few minutes, tossing the whole time, until the bread is crispy and golden. Turn the burner off and set the pan aside.
Next, prep and cut the vegetables and cheese. The feta cheese I like to cut into thick triangles and the tomatoes I like to cut into sixths. The peppers and cucumber I cut into thin, matchstick strips that are about 3-4 inches long.
To begin assembling the salad, place a generous handful of croutons on the bottom of a large plate. Next, arrange the cucumber and pepper strips on top of the bread. Add on a few tomato slices and pieces of feta. Drizzle the entire plate with olive oil and squeeze on the juice of half a lemon. Finish the salad off with a sprinkle of oregano, salt and pepper, and garnish with parsley.
This salad is great as an appetizer, a light lunch, or as a part of a dinner meal. We love to have this with grilled chicken and a glass of red wine.
This can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. Any leftovers can be refrigerated but keep in mind the bread will get soggy, so I would recommend storing the two separately if you do happen to have leftovers.