So, amongst all things I have ever heard about Greece, I never once heard about their food.
Which is weird.
Because over any other country that I’ve been to (and let’s be real here, all of the ones I’ve been to, I’ve purposely gone because of their “really good food”).
Spain. France. Italy. The coast of Mexico, even.
And even all the foodie places in the States, with the same thing: Napa, Sonoma, Austin, San Fran, NYC, San Diego, LA.
If there’s good food, good wine, and culture around it, chances I’ve been, or, you can bet it’s on my short list.
So when I say that Greece was by far, beyond, the best food I have had while traveling, it’s not without knowing other amazing food-driven places.
Which, along with it’s deep blue seas and white washed walls and abounding sunshine, makes the greek islands a little hidden golden nugget gem of a place.
The crispy fresh vegetables. Gorgeous little streams of rich olive oil. Herbs galore. Seafood plucked right from the sea that morning, and grilled. Lemon over everything.
So much flavor. So much simplicity, that even the most fancy foodie couldn’t deny the amazingness of such pure ingredients assembled without much fuss.
And maybe that was the big difference. There was no stuffiness or fussiness about the whole thing. You could dine on the literal edge of the serene water, with a carafe of house rose, and 3 or 4 plates of goodness, without crazy prices or waiter ‘tude or rich dishes that keep you rolling around in bed all night.
It was food, and vacation bliss, as it’s meant to be: effortless. Simple. Deeply satisfying. And every bite making you slow down and just take in all the glorious textures and flavors and pure-ness.
I loved it so much, because it’s how I think every meal should be, of course. Daily. Not just on vacation. Good, but not overdone or too fancy. Or time intensive. Food that happens to be good for you, although you kinda forget that it is.
But unlike other vacation food, the Greek food is so do-able. So easy. Even for busy, everyday life.
To be the thing that grounds us, slows us down, and makes us take it all in. Even if it’s just 15 minutes that we have to spare.
My people, those Greeks.
Including their most famous dish- one we all know (or think we know): the Greek Salad.
But, they do it better. And I took notes, because I’ve been doing it all wrong and I never even knew.
And now, I can’t stop making my own renditions at home, because it just WORKS. And is everything summer cooking should be.
So, a mini lesson, in the art of simplicity and ease:
Lessons in (real) Greek salad making:
- Use green peppers, not red or orange. And only very thinly sliced.
- Use sweet white onions, not red. All the time. Walla Walla sweets, you’ve got my number.
- Use the best, most flavorful and deeply colored olive oil you can find. Use enough so you almost feel guilty about it. Almost.
- Herbs. Mixed. Dried or fresh. But definately fresh oregano.No questions asked.
- Feta. Real feta, in a block and brine. Not crumbled or dry, and definatlely no weird fat free stuff. Or whatever salty cheese you can find the freshest and most soft version of. Just so it almost blends into a creamy dressing as you take your first bites.
- Real (big cranks) of sea salt and pepper.
- Vinegar. Just a splash. Red or sherry are the most mild and best. but white or lemon will do.
- One thing to make it your own (smoked paprika, chili powder, smoked salmon or pepperoni, capers, olives, grated garlic, mint, etc)
- Welcome to the club.
Makes 2-3 servings
Notes: This salad keeps great in the fridge for a few days with just the vinegar on it. Hold off on the olive oil and feta until you’re ready to eat. Serve this salad on it’s own, over arugula or mixed greens. Add ins like gigante beans, roasted potatoes, turkey or lamb burgers, grilled salmon, etc optional.
1 green pepper, sliced as thinly as you can
1 pint gorgeous baby tomatoes, sliced
1 cucumber, skins partially peeled and seeds scooped out
1 block of feta, placed on top
fresh oregano, leaves only
mix of dried (or fresh): parsley, basil and celery salt
sea salt and pepper
(great) olive oil, a good drizzle
red wine vinegar, a few splashes
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding the olive oil, vinegar and feta when ready to serve.