I love Greek Salads ever since I had my first one at Panera Bread. I liked the freshness of the vegetables, the crispness of the romaine and the tangy Kalamata olives and pepperoncini. But this is not the way Greeks make their salad according to Michael Psilakis in his cookbook “Live To Eat: Cooking the Mediterranean Way”.
Traditional Greek Salads do not add romaine lettuce or pepperoncini. The author can understand the desire to add romaine as it does provide a nice “crunch” to a salad. This vinaigrette surpasses the other vinaigrettes I tried (including Panera Bread) which I will post later. I made four vinaigrettes; Ina Garten, California Pizza Kitchen, Panera Bread and Michaels’ was the best by far!
The fresh herbs (mint, dill and parsley) I forgot to add to Michael’s Greek salad above!
I served the salads with dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and mini pita bread. Dolmades can be found fresh at Whole Foods in their deli section, in tins at Trader Joes or better yet make your own. I hope to make my own dolmades and pita bread – some time in the future!
What sets Michael’s recipe apart from all others is the red wine vinaigrette made with garlic puree (see recipe) and Dijon mustard. These two ingredients give the vinaigrette great flavor and wonderful body. Michael thinks of “it as a condiment that can give almost any dish an unmistakable spark. Its bright acidity breathes life into a roasted piece of steak, fish or chicken. You can also add a wonderful layer of flavor to a dish with a final drizzle”. He provides 13 recipes where he uses this delicious vinaigrette…
Greek Salad with a Red Wine Vinaigrette
Red Wine Vinaigrette:
- 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. shallot, finely diced
- 2-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 2-1/2 tsp. Garlic Puree (I highly recommend homemade but you can buy this at the store)
- 1/2 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper, ground
- 1-1/2 cups canola oil
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine all of the ingredients except the two oils in a blender and puree until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add the canola and olive oils until the vinaigrette is thoroughly incorporated. Store in a large container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate. It keeps for weeks…
On its own the vinaigrette is acidic and mellows when it is used to dress vegetables or as a dressing for a salad; add a little extra virgin olive oil before serving. If it is too mellow add a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice.
Makes 3 cups
Combine tomatoes, red onion slices, Kalamata olives pitted, yellow pepper slices, English cucumber peeled and sliced, fresh herbs (parsley, mint and dill), feta cheese cut into cubes, and salt and pepper to taste. Maybe add some dried oregano and a few tsp. of extra virgin olive oil to finish.
Place a layer of romaine on a salad plate and add cherry tomatoes cut in half, red onion slices, English cucumber peeled (if desired) and sliced pepperoncini, cubed feta cheese, sliced sweet peppers, fresh herbs (parsley, mint and dill) and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling. The modern version can be any way you would like!
Traditional Greek Salad (without romaine and pepperoncini): Yes, I remembered the fresh herbs…
Modern Greek Salad: I removed the olives and added the pepperoncini and romaine. A modern version can be anything you want – what is important is the vinaigrette which is by far the best I have ever tasted. This time I remembered to add the fresh herbs – they do make a difference!