Greek Salad and Dishes It Goes Perfectly With

Jun 27, 2020

Believe it or not, Greek salad is in the top five most popular salads in the US according to many surveys. 

And it’s no wonder. 

It works well as a side dish, a meal, or even as a snack. That’s thanks in part to the fact that Greek salad is a very broad umbrella term. There are a number of recipes with all sorts of ingredients claiming to fall under that umbrella. 

So what’s the genuine recipe? 

You’ll find out here. Below is a breakdown of the best Greek salad recipes and what to pair them with.

What’s Greek Salad?

Also known as horiatiki salad, you can infer this type of salad originates in the Hellenic peninsula. In Greece, the salad is fairly standard fare, and it usually includes only a few traditional ingredients. In different parts of Greece, people add certain idiosyncratic elements, but one thing that can’t be missing is feta cheese. 

In the US, you’ll usually see crumbled or cubed feta cheese in it. However, Grecians usually serve it as a slice of cheese on top of the other ingredients. That way, they can choose how much feta you’ll have with every bite. 

Horiatiki salad is typically served for breakfast or lunch. It’s based on simple ingredients that farmers usually have access to, and it’s envisioned as a farmer’s salad. 

Outside of Greece, the salad has taken on a life of its own. Many of the ingredients you’ll see in a “Greek” salad these days aren’t even native to Greece. 

But that’s OK! Variety is the spice of life. 

What’s Greek Salad

Traditional Greek Salad Ingredients

The ingredients of a traditional Greek salad aren’t complicated. Here’s what you can start with:

  • Fresh romaine lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes 
  • Feta cheese (shavings, crumbles, or cubes)
  • Sliced kalamata olives
  • Golden pepperoncini

And, you can make a quick and easy dressing for your salad with just a few ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Oregano
  • Salt and pepper

There are no hard and fast rules about the proportions of each ingredient. If you love kalamata olives, use them liberally. Don’t like cucumbers, leave them out. After all, it’s your salad. 

Remember that a good salad has four broad components. 

  1. Base (in this case Romaine lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes)
  2. Body (for our purposes, feta cheese provides the body) 
  3. Dressing 
  4. Garnish (olives and pepperoncini)

As long as you maintain those elements roughly balanced, feel free to express yourself as much as you like with the ingredients. 

How To Make Greek Salad Recipe

Now that you know the ingredients, let’s take a look at how to combine them into a delicious salad. There’s a little prep work involved, but you should be able to tackle this salad in under 20 minutes. 

First, you’ll want to dice what needs dicing and slice what needs slicing. If you’re sticking with the ingredients above, that means dicing the romaine, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Alternatively, you can slice them. But, you should stick with one type of cut throughout with the base ingredients. Otherwise, your salad can end up looking a bit disjointed. 

Then you’ll want to slice your garnishes, i.e. the kalamata olives and pepperoncini. The feta cheese is up to you. Many people enjoy cubed feta, some people prefer it crumbled, and still, others like to grate it. We recommend you try it all and pick the one that best suits your taste. It’s going to come down to whether you enjoy a bright, salty pop from a cube of feta or a nice, even creaminess throughout the salad. 

Then, you can move on to the dressing. The easiest way to approach a dressing is to put all the ingredients in a mason jar. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and spices in the jar. Seal it tightly and shake it gently for about thirty seconds. Voila! A perfectly emulsified dressing. 

At that point, your job’s almost done. Combine all the ingredients, dress the salad, and toss gently in a bowl. It’s important that you don’t overmix the salad. Feta cheese is not too firm, and if you keep mixing it, you run the risk of taking out any texture it has. 

We’re sure many of you are thinking:

Wait a minute. I had a fantastic Greek salad with X, Y, and Z ingredients, and those aren’t on this list. 

Well, true enough. There are many ingredients that are often used. Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Sliced onions (red onions work best to add color).
  • Replace the feta cheese with goat cheese, or complement it with a mild mozzarella.  
  • Add fresh bell peppers
  • Replaced diced tomatoes with grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Add croutons for some texture and flavor

And, for the dressing:

  • Add sesame seeds for some added pizzazz 
  • Replace lemon juice with red wine vinegar
  • Try to add a dash of Dijon mustard
  • Add a few cloves of crushed and minced garlic

Traditional Greek Food That Goes Perfectly With Greek Salad

As you can see, the sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing and matching your favorite traditional greek food and their ingredients. But, before you even start working on the salad, you should figure out what to pair it with. 

It’s easy enough to say Greek salad goes with everything. But, you probably want more concrete advice. So, here are some good pairing options based on the meal you’re making.

If you’re preparing breakfast, a cheese tiropita is an excellent choice to have with your Greek Salad. Lemon and Vine cheese tiropita, or any of our triangle appetizers. The tiropitas’ flaky phyllo dough makes the ideal counterpoint for your salad’s tangy dressing and creamy feta cheese. And, the entire meal can be ready before you know it. The time it takes you to prepare your salad is just enough to finish baking our triangle tiropitas. 

Preparing lunch? Reach for one of our Lemon and Vine frozen meat or vegetable pastichios. The ultimate Greek lunch dish paired with the perfect Greek salad, you’ll feel like you’ve gone to Mykonos. Moussaka is another perfect layered dish you can try with your salad. 

And, for the perfect light summer dinner, pair your horiatiki salad with Lemon and Vine Mikro Kefthetes. Kefthethes are a greek variant of meatballs with a ton of flavor in a tiny package. To prepare your dinner, make your salad and refrigerate it. Then, simply empty the Mikro Kefthetes into a saucepan and simmer them for 20 minutes or until heated through. It’s that easy. 

And, you’ll be amazed at how much depth of flavor a Horiatiki salad will add to meat and fish. 

In Greece, you’re likely to find it paired with a nice pork steak or a grilled fillet of red mullet. Try it, you won’t be disappointed. 

Traditional Greek Food That Goes Perfectly With Greek Salad

A Salad For Every Occasion

Greek salad is really about as versatile as you choose to make it. All you have to do is keep in mind a few basic principles and then let your imagination run wild with the ingredients. 

Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, feta, and olives are your foundation. For the dressing, only vinegar or lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil are strictly necessary. You’ll be surprised at the wide spectrum of foods this salad successfully pairs with. 

If you’re a seasoned horiatiki salad veteran, do you have any tips to share with people who are new to it? How about food pairings? What are your favorites and why? We’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, 

Kalí óreksi!

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