During the summer of 2018, my husband and I took a trip to Europe while he was getting his MBA. He was taking a class on International Business and they had an optional study abroad trip. We decided to take the opportunity to go.
And man, I’m so glad that we did!
We visited Greece and Italy with his class and then extended our trip to visit Paris. This trip opened my eyes to so many food cultures and experiences. It was so incredible!
The first place we went to was Athens, Greece. I remember the first night we were there, we had dinner on a small rooftop restaurant and I ordered a traditional Greek Salad. I was blown away by the quality of the ingredients in such a simple meal.
Everywhere we went in this beautiful country, the food was absolutely incredible.
Those Europeans LOVE good quality food.
Every bite was nothing like the food we have in America. They simply have an exceptional food culture!
From the first bite of this traditional Greek Salad, I was done for! The kalamata olives were abundant and pungent and salty. They still had the pits in the middle that you had to extract with your teeth.
The tomatoes were ripe and juicy and fresh. The cucumbers were bright and crunchy.
The feta was incredible. An entire slab of it on top of the salad. It tasted different than the feta that we have here. From what I understand, it is because the Greeks make their feta with sheep’s milk. Or maybe a mixture of sheep’s milk and cows milk. I’m not entirely sure.
The olive oil was incredible. Not at all like the gross, rancid stuff that most people use in America.
The oregano sprinkled on top was simply delicious.
It’s amazing what a simple meal like traditional Greek Salad can become when the ingredients are as high quality as they are in the heart of Greece. I don’t think we had a bad bite while we were there.
Even the greek salad from the street vendors (that I grabbed and ate on a bus ride) was simply divine.
Oh, Greece, I’ll come back and eat your food anytime!
While we were in Athens, we had the opportunity to go to an olive oil tasting experience with my husband’s MBA class. I will write a separate post about what I learned there! So incredible!! I was geeking out just a little bit!
Stay tuned for that post.
Traditional Greek Salad Recipe
This is more like instructions on how to assemble (and a lecture on quality ingredients) than an actual recipe. I tried looking for a recipe online and wasn’t able to find exactly what I wanted to share with you so I wrote one out for you instead.
Plus I get to share with you my trip pictures. Bonus!
Here are the main ingredients for the salad.
Tomatoes: As fresh and ripe as possible. In every Greek Salad I ate, they were cut into large chunks. Roughly bite-sized, but always in chunks or wedges. If you are growing your own tomatoes (the best way to make sure they are fresh and ripe, in my opinion) check out my post about 10 secrets for growing prize winning tomatoes here. And if you grow your own tomatoes and are overflowing with them, here is my roundup post of tomato recipes from top food bloggers.
Cucumbers: These were usually sliced into rounds and added to the tomatoes. They were always the “Greek Cucumber” variety. I’m not sure what variety they sell in US grocery stores, but they are definitely NOT greek cucumbers. Greek cucumbers have very thin skins and are dark green with very light stripes. You may need to grow them yourself if you can’t find them at a local store. Here is my post about growing cucumbers.
Feta: As I mentioned above, the feta we have in the US is not the same as what they served in Greece. I believe that the Greeks make their feta with sheep’s milk. Or maybe a mixture of sheep’s milk and cows milk. Look near the specialty cheeses and check the ingredient list to make sure it has sheep’s milk in it. It was always served as a slab on top of the salad.
Here’s the brand that I used in this recipe.
Kalamata olives: This will probably be your simplest ingredient to find since most stores these days have a good quality olive bar. Get the ones with the pits for an authentic experience.
Olive oil: Oh man, the Greeks LOVE their olive oil. It’s not Mediterranean food without it, right? Get the highest quality olive oil that you can afford to buy. Choose one that is imported from Italy or Greece if possible. Here is the kind that I currently love and have been using for years.
And here’s the brand that we did the olive oil tasting at while we were in Greece. Both are excellent quality olive oils!
Oregano: A sprinkle of dried oregano (and sometimes other herbs) was always served on top of the salad. I happen to grow mine in my front yard and dry it in the fall. If you don’t have that option, look for high-quality dried oregano in the spice aisle or bulk bins if your store has them.
Optional ingredients: Sea salt – the feta and kalamata olives are plenty salty but if you want you can add a little sprinkle of good quality sea salt. Sliced red onions – while a couple of the traditional Greek Salads I had in Greece had red onions, most did not. At least according to my memory. Many people add them to their recipes. I’m not a huge fan of raw onions because I don’t digest them well, but add them if you want to.
Technically, if you add more than these ingredients it is no longer a traditional Greek Salad, but if you want to add in some avocado or artichoke hearts, go hog wild!
This is such a simple food that is beautiful to the eye and pleasant to the soul. It is fresh and satisfying. You stay surprisingly full despite the large number of veggies. I think it is the protein from the feta and the fat from the olive oil that increases satiety.
Anyway, I really hope you try this recipe.
Let me know what you think. Have you ever had a traditional Greek Salad? I’d love to hear your experiences…tell me in the comments below!
Happy Greek Salad eating!
Traditional Greek Salad
- 2 medium, ripe tomatoes
- 1/2 of a cucumber, diced or sliced
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, with the pits for more authentic style
- 4-7 ounces feta cheese, to taste
- sprinkle dried oregano
- drizzle high-quality olive oil
- Dice tomatoes into large, bite-sized chunks. Slice or dice cucumbers. Add both ingredients to a bowl
- Add feta cheese and kalamata olives. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano.
P.S. Here are a few pictures from our trip to Greece for your viewing pleasure. 😉
We saw this guy dressed up as a Spartan and took a picture with him!
This is the original Olympic Stadium, called the Panathenaic Stadium
This is me and my husband at the Greek Acropolis!