Last week my neighbors had their annual summer party, hosting well over fifty guests. Firemen seem to be famous for their culinary prowess, and Stan is no exception. Waiting to see what would show up on the buffet table this year, everyone hoped for their favorite from years prior. My husband craved his keilbasi and baked beans, while our friends were waiting for the crab legs. I was looking forward to his smoked ribs that cooked for hours on his industrial size grill. This year he surprised us. He switched out the ribs for pulled pork. Now normally, it is not my favorite, but this was delicious. Usually made with pork shoulder, he chose to use several pork tenderloins. He cooked them for hours in a good store brand BBQ sauce and added root beer and brown sugar to enhance the flavors. Stan also made BBQ chicken with a dry rub, potato salad, macaroni salad and pasta with peas and onions. Knowing what a tremendous undertaking it is to cook for so many guests, I offered to make a large Greek salad in order to take one thing off him. It doesn’t seem like much, but cleaning and cutting lettuce and vegetables for a large party is time consuming. I usually bake a dessert but I remembered how many desserts they had last year and decided the salad would be more helpful.
If you want an authentic Greek salad—It’s quite simple. Cut up a tomato or two. Slice in some cucumber and red onion. Toss in a few kalamata olives and top with a slab of good imported feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and oregano to taste. That’s it! Lunch for one!
Now, for the party size Greek salad. Yes—this one does have lettuce. I made the salad in a large sterno tin for easy transportation. If you choose not to make this portion size, I suggest making the same amount of dressing and use it throughout the week.
6 hearts of Romaine lettuce, cut
6 scallions, sliced
1/3 head of red cabbage, shredded very thin
2 or 3 large tomatoes or a package of cherry tomatoes
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced
kalamata olives, pitted if possible
1 pound feta, crumbled or cut up into small chunks
6 – 8 dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves)
Fresh dill (dried is fine too)
Toss together the lettuce, scallions and red cabbage in the tin or large serving bowl. Garnish the outer edge with the sliced cucumber, then the tomatoes and olives. Fill the center with the feta. Place a stuffed grape leaf in each corner and in the center on top of the feta. Sprinkle with the dill.
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Whisk together by hand or emulsify a minute or two in a blender. Add thedressing to the salad when you are ready to serve and not before.