RECIPE: Traditional Greek Salad

This is my ode to the Greek Salad.  Seriously, I never knew such a simple dish could be so amazing.  Officially called horiatiki (or Χωριάτικη), which means village salad because of its traditional ingredients, this refreshing dish is a staple in homes and tavernas across Greece.  Although you’ll find slight variations throughout different parts of the country, the basics remain the same – tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, olive oil and oregano or other spices.  Yep, no lettuce or leafy greens here like what we are familiar in the U.S.  Another difference is the feta, generally presented as one big salty block of deliciousness atop the salad rather than the tiny crumbles of cheese that visitors may expect.  Trust me, you’ll never look at feta the same again.  It’s also often accompanied by bread (not pitas) to help soak up the extra juices at the bottom of the bowl.

During my 2 weeks in Greece, I made it a point to order a Greek salad every day (see above – lots of variations!).  In general, most Greek cuisine tends to be very simple (why mess with a good thing) with reoccurring themes of vegetables and grilled meats, and the Greek salad proves to be the perfect compliment.  It’s usually served in a big bowl that is meant to be split among the table, so at restaurants we would order one Greek salad along with a few other mezdeds (small sharable plates) to create a well-rounded meal.  So while the recipe below is portioned for 2 people, it can easily be scaled for larger groups.  Enjoy!

Greek Village Salad
Makes 2 servings

1 large tomato
1 cucumber
1/2 green bell pepper
1/4 red onion
6 Kalamata olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 block feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
Red wine vinegar
Extra Virgin olive oil
Dried oregano (see note below)
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Crusty bread for serving

  1. Cut tomato and cucumber into large chunks and toss to combine in a shallow bowl or plate.
  1. Thinly slice bell pepper and onion and add to bowl along with olives and capers.
  1. Top salad with the block of feta and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar, and sprinkle salad with oregano to finish. (Note: I purchased a Greek salad spice mixture during my trip that includes dried oregano, dill, basil, parsley, onion, chili and tomato.)
  1. Serve immediately with slices of bread.

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