GREEK PANZANELLA SALAD

Photo by Alexa Speyer

Photo by Alexa Speyer

With the warm weather finally upon us, my cravings have shifted to lighter and fresher foods as opposed to the heavier sauce laden meals of winter. Salads made with fresh corn, tomatoes, and cucumber for example. And the herbs! Freshly snipped from my container garden. A while back I posted this recipe for panzanella salad, but with everyone planning outdoor parties, I thought this would be a good time to share it once again for all my new followers. It’s definitely been a favorite around here.

Panzanella salad is a bread salad that is traditionally Italian. But, what can I say? I have to put my spin on it and Greekify it. We can say it’s a fusion of sorts—like my family. My husband is Italian so this salad has a bit of both our culinary cultures.

Buon Appetito & Kali Orexi

 

Greek Panzanella Salad

Party size

4 – 5 large tomatoes cut in thick slices

2 cucumbers cut in chunks or thick slices

1 small red onion thinly sliced

2 red, yellow or orange peppers cut in chunks

1 round Tuscan bread with crusts removed and cut into 1-1/2 cubes

1 pound slab of feta cheese

1 cup basil leaves

(Fresh dill, chives and parsley may be added also)

Heat a large skillet and coat with olive oil. Add the bread cubes, constantly turning as each side browns. This can be done a day ahead.

Cut up all the vegetables and place in a very large mixing bowl. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing until coated. Add salt and pepper to taste, a teaspoon of sugar and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Mix well. Add the basil and any other fresh herbs you like. I always add oregano, but I also add fresh dill, chives or parsley if I have it on hand. Break the feta into chunks and add to the salad. Add the toasted bread cubes. Toss to coat. Transfer into a large salad bowl. There should be little or no excess dressing left in mixing bowl. If you would like to make the dressing ahead, I recommend mixing the fresh herbs in with the vegetables, not the dressing. If you only have dried herbs on hand you can add the herbs to the dressing. Below is a Greek salad dressing using dried herbs.

 

Greek Salad Dressing

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon sugar

2 cloves crushed garlic

Combine all ingredients and whisk well, shake in a cruet or emulsify in a blender. Drizzle over salad, mixing and tossing to coat. Do not overdress. You will not use all the dressing. Keep in the fridge for later use.

 

 

 

 

 

Greek Salad – With or without lettuce? That is the question

Making a Greek salad for lunch to take to work is one of my favorite meals. A party size Greek salad is always a crowd pleaser. Whether you decide to made a traditional Greek salad, or the Americanized version which includes lettuce, the key to perfection is a good imported feta cheese and an excellent olive oil. I live near the town of Port Jefferson on Long Island. I frequent a store named The Amazing Olive, located on East Main Street. The owners are extremely helpful and welcoming, and the oils and vinegars are divine. There, you can find oils in dozens of flavors and from various countries, each having a unique taste. When I made my roasted potatoes with their truffle infused olive oil, the scent lingered throughout the house for hours. With my Greek salad, I used their Koroneiki Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The taste of the dressing was delicate and flavorful. If you don’t live in the area and you aren’t able to visit The Amazing Olive, I’m sure you can find a specialty store that carries Greek olive oil. If you can get out to Port Jefferson, please visit. The town is beautiful and the Amazing Olive carries a variety of products. Spices and herbs. Soaps and body oils. But their Olive oil and balsamic vinegars are reason enough to stop by.

cheffie's kitchen

IMG_1846Last 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…

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Greek Salad – With or without lettuce? That is the question

IMG_1846Last 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.

Dressing

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.