The actual Greek name of the ubiquitous Greek salad is Horiatiki, which means, roughly, “village salad.” As I mentioned in my general post on Greek food, one Greek restaurateur told me that the primordial Greek salad was just feta, onions, and olive oil, and that traditionally the cucumbers and tomatoes are flourishes added only in the summer months.
There are really only two things you need to know to make superlative Greek salad. The first: for this dish more than maybe any other you need to use amazing ingredients. Greek salad with pale tomatoes and thick-skinned cucumbers and canned olives is really one of the saddest things you can eat.
I use the following:
- Gull Valley vine or cherry tomatoes (or in late summer tomatoes from the garden…)
- Hothouse cucumbers from Doef’s greenhouse. I prefer the smaller varieties as they have tender skin.
- Vlahos feta – This is a cow’s milk feta made in Camrose by Tiras Dairies. It is available at Greek grocery stores like Omonia Foods, as well as the Italian Centre Shop.
- Marinated kalamata olives from Olive Me.
My second bit of advice: even though this is a very “elemental” salad, and we want the ingredients to speak for themselves, this doesn’t mean we should shy away from seasoning and dressing the salad. I season the cucumbers and tomatoes a good while before mixing the salad. The traditional dressing is just olive oil, but I always add wine vinegar, too. Fresh herbs like parsley and oregano are also nice.
My only other suggestion is to be judicious with the onions. A good spike of raw onion is a beautiful contrast to the juicy fresh veggies, but a little goes a long way.
Because we are dressing this salad it is best served with bread, to soak up the tomato juice and vinegar and oil left at the bottom of the bowl.
Horiatiki – Village Salad
- 300 g fresh cucumber
- 350 g fresh tomato
- 20 g red onion, finely minced
- a big pinch of salt
- sugar (maybe)
- olive oil
- red wine vinegar