Greek Salad – When Naked isn’t Naughty

Greek Salad with Olives and Feta Cheese
Today, I woke up and looked myself in the mirror with a newly critical eye, for that is what you do in the middle phases of the post-break mourning period. I examined every wrinkle, every sag, every lumpy bumpy “curve,” and asked myself, “Am I ready?”

I inhaled to puff up my chest, squared my shoulders, then threw them back.

Am I ready to face the summery, sunshiny world?

I rose up on the balls of my feet as if in high heels because it makes your legs look longer and leaner and your butt pops out in a pert little pouf.

Am I happy enough with what I see in the mirror today that I might actually shimmy into teeny tiny butt-fold-baring hotpants and a backless halter top, which means I would also go sans…underwire support?

I put my hands on my hips and tossed my head back to loosen the waves.

Am I ready? Am I?

Am I ready to go out and face the sticky, sweaty summer sunshine…a little less covered?!?!

I twirled around, arms raised up, for the full perspective.

Are you fucking crazy?!?!

I don’t care how hot it is out there. I’m going to crank the a/c to a cool 68 degrees and slip right back into my navy blue Adidas sweatpants and men’s XL-shrunk-to-M Hanes beefy-T. I need to eat a few more salads.

So yes, I didn’t get my hair cut. I didn’t tear my wallet a new one with some wild shopping spree. I didn’t go for some sick, sweet orgy with Ben, Jerry, and Debbie Fields. I decided to get my mind and body into shape as my first step toward “the new me.” (That is so lame, I wish I could delete what I just typed.)

And just like the internal dialogue I had with myself about what to wear today, I have the same kind of conversation in my head about salads. Salads are a very serious matter, and the opposing opinions in my head have battled each other all my life, sending me into a sick, twisted salad insanity.

On one side, I am a lustful, wanton glutton who sees a salad as nothing more than an easy vehicle for experiencing the cheap taste thrill of salad dressing. This is why I love Iceberg lettuce – a crisp, leafy blank canvas for thick, creamy buttermilk Ranch, fetid yet flavorful bleu cheese, lusciously sweet and spicy honey mustard. We simply have salads so that we don’t look like fools for slurping salad dressing out of a bowl with a spoon.

On the other side, I am a purist. I turn my nose up to salad dressing and lovingly caress the bare, unblemished flesh of fresh vegetables. It is blasphemy to drown Mother Nature’s handi-flavor-work in fattening, sour, salty, overpoweringly flavored spewage that is always laden with much too much sugar. You only use salad dressing as a sheepish cover-up for wilted, browned, underripe, flavorless vegetables that you plucked from a rotting death in the bottom of your crisper.

Do I dress? Or do I bare it all and go au naturel?

But ‘tis not merely a single battle. An entire salad war wages, and somewhere else in my brainwashed psyche, a salad is always based on leafy greens.

One side shakes its head. “You poor ignorant little fool, Merriam-Webster defines a salad as any cold preparation of raw vegetables. A salad of greens is for a novice.”

The other side retorts, “Cut it out with your education affectations. If you’re eating chopped, raw vegetables, you’re not eating a salad, you’re eating a bowl of mire poix.”

“And your greens are a garnish. Ha! And what of potato salad, hm? Potato salad doesn’t have lettuce, and yet, it is a salad.” Smug.

“Macaroni salad is called “salad,” too and that’s not even food!”

Wait. What?

Salad with dressing, or without? With greens or without? Dressed or naked!??!?!

Then I sit back and ask myself…

WHO THE FUCK CARES?!?! For fox ache, it’s a salad.

Do not worry. I have already checked myself into the loony bin.

Greek Saladno lettuce, otherwise it’s inspired

So I retreated into the basement, turned out the lights and escaped the airbattle waging overhead altogether by making a Greek salad, officially known as ????????? ??????. In case you studied the infinitely more useful Latin in high school instead of Greek, that translates to “horiatiki salata,” which is the official, authentic, traditional, technical Greek salad. The “greens” debate is moot because Greek salad does not have lettuce.

If you toss kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions and Feta cheese in a bowl, splash it with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano, it is a Greek salad. But. But! If you add lettuce, even if it’s Romaine lettuce, well 1) you’re getting crazy because Greeks and Romans are totally different, and b) it’s a Greek-inspired salad because it has Greek ingredients, but it is not a true Greek salad. I should know. I’ve never been to Greece but dammit if I’m not a wizard on The Internets.

However, I did not splash so much as a drop of lemon juice, not a single leaf of oregano, not one grain of salt nor pepper on my Greek salad because I felt like a purist today. I went naughty and left the salad totally, completely, utterly nekkid. The ingredients – red, ripe, fleshy tomatoes dripping with juice, taut, refreshing cucumbers, feisty onions and crisp, sweet bell peppers – needed absolutely nothing. Kalamata olives and Feta cheese provided just enough saltiness.

Here is a “recipe” because I am obsessive and am now trying to include recipes on this blog, even though posting a recipe for a salad is about as useful as posting a recipe for…”toast.”

Greek Salad Recipe

Chop into 1″ pieces: 1 English hothouse, 2 Kirby or other cucumber that doesn’t have a wax-coating on the skin (wax is for candles), 2-3 ripe, but firm, tomatoes, and 1 bell pepper (red, green, or both). Add ½ thinly sliced red onion, a handful or more each of pitted Kalamata olives and crumbled Feta cheese.

I left my salad naked because either I was 1) lazy, 2) afraid of the fat calories in the olive oil, I don’t care how good olive oil is for your heart right now I only care about “getting over it” and my bikini, or 3) the vegetables were so fresh that they needed no help. You guess.

If you are the slightest bit self-conscious about what Mother Nature gave your vegetables, then go ahead and cover them up. Before I so boldly went au naturel, I used a Greek-ish vinaigrette.

Greek Vinaigrette Recipe

Shake or stir together a 3:1 ratio of extra-virgin olive oil to freshly squozen lemon juice, 1 clove of very finely minced garlic, chopped fresh oregano, a dash of salt, and several solid turns on the pepper mill.

Who Else Made a Greek Salad?
Amatuer Gourmet: Cooking My Trip Part I: Greek Salad (Jul 2005)
Kalyn’s Kitchen: Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad (Oct 2005)
101 Cookbooks: Greek Salad with Mild Chile Dressing (Jun 2003)

** a year ago today, there was flailing flesh and finger cymbals at koutoubia **

** this post originally published in August 2006 **

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  • Anonymous

    LAC: I want to read YOU’RE blog. I am so dissapointed that when I click through your bloger profile I see that your’e blog (GourmetHedonism4) is not active. You have many things to say on TDLs Blog, and they are interresting, but I think I would definately read LACB1og.

  • sarah

    yes, lac, why dont you start a blog?

  • Kevin

    Yeah, why don’t you start your own blog and stop cyberstalking Sarah? Whenever I read your comments, I feel the need to bathe in alcohol and light it on fire. I looked up “creep” in the dictionary today, and it only said “see: lacheesemonger”.

    Get a life, please, and leave her to hers.

  • Kevin

    Yeah, why don’t you start your own blog and stop cyberstalking Sarah? Whenever I read your comments, I feel the need to bathe in alcohol and light it on fire. I looked up “creep” in the dictionary today, and it only said “see: lacheesemonger”.

    Get a life, please, and leave her to hers.

  • Allison

    If you want to be a bit different with this type of salad, why not try halloumi instead. Just grill, barbecue or dry fry it and then add to the salad in question. Or else have it with some warm pitta bread and houmous.

    • http://www.examiner.com/x-2706-LA-Sex-and-Relationships-Examiner sharifa

      Ooo, that sounds good Allison. I may have to try that myself.

  • sarah

    allison: excellent idea! i’ve never used halloumi before, so i will try it next – i mean how can i not? it gets fried.

  • Pat from Oz

    Anyone know this recipe. I lived in Cyprus in the early 60s. We had terrific little road side cafes.

    Charcoaled grilled steak and salad served with yogurt and (for the British taste – French fries – straw chips.
    HOWEVER – They covered the salad with a type of mayonnaise dressing sprinkled with Paprika. It was lovely. Can’t find a recipe.
    Possibly it was just Mayonnaise with paprika on top?

    Any ideas? To me it tasted more like a seafood dressing?

    Pat from Oz

  • Pat from Oz

    Anyone know this recipe. I lived in Cyprus in the early 60s. We had terrific little road side cafes.

    Charcoaled grilled steak and salad served with yogurt and (for the British taste – French fries – straw chips.
    HOWEVER – They covered the salad with a type of mayonnaise dressing sprinkled with Paprika. It was lovely. Can’t find a recipe.
    Possibly it was just Mayonnaise with paprika on top?

    Any ideas? To me it tasted more like a seafood dressing?

    Pat from Oz

  • sarah

    pat from oz: i wonder if it was just tzatziki? very thick greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice, garlic, and cucumber (sometimes dill)?

  • http://lichtyfamilyblog.blogspot.com Maria

    I love naked salads! If there is enough flavor going on, why ruin a good thing. Looks so good!

    • http://www.thedeliciouslife.com Sarah J. Gim

      and (as sad as i am to admit that i didn’t figure this out until recently) when the vegetables are natural temp, as opposed to right out of the refrigerator, the flavors are even better.

  • http://pixie-baker.blogspot.com/ Valerie

    Sarah, You have made my morning. I woke up grumpy due to the late season cold weather and lack of sleep but your writing cheered me up. Hilarious! You remind me of my best friend who sadly lives far away. Plus your salad makes me think of the coming warmth and produce that Summer has to offer.
    Thank you. :)

  • http://whatilikenyc.blogspot.com Laura [What I Like]

    Nice…I am wary of salads generally but I’m willing to go with it on this once since there don’t appear to be any yuppie lettuces involved. I am generally pro-salad as long as it involves some pickled red onions from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

  • http://www.debohobo.com Debo Hobo

    Astounding!!! Never will I be a salad purist unless I am trapped on an island and even then I will pulverize something into a sauce of some kind.

    Your writing is simply amazing when I first looked at the post I was like OMG why sooo long, then each word pushed me forward to read the next and so on.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    I love Greek salad for the feta and olives but I’m not a red onion fan. Either way, yours looks great!

  • http://inanoyster.blogspot.com Pearl

    I love your pure salad :)

  • http://dlynz.com Donalyn

    My thick, creamy, decadent feta salad dressing isn’t authentic? Only ’cause the Greeks didn’t think of it yet I bet. On the other hand, noting loaded up with feta cheese and good olives can possibly be anything but fantastic.

  • Vitto

    3 parts extra virgin olive oil , 1 part fresh lemon juice , 1 heaping teaspoon of dried oregano , 1 clove garlic chopped fine , a dash of ground salt , a dash of ground pepper. I’m Italian so I could’nt resist squirting in a drop or two of red wine vinegar but in looking back, I don’t think it lent much to the dressing. This mixture was a dead on bingo on the nose nailed it and stuck the landing victory and was asked for by all who had it. Pour it over chopped bell pepper,chopped cucumber,sliced red onion,pitted kalmata olives and cubed feta cheese. I plate it up ontop of a very small amount of crisp assorted lettuce which I know strays a bit off of authentic but …call it garnish and watch everyone eat it anyway. Enjoy , Vitto

  • Vitto

    OOPS , forgot to mention the grape tomatoes …mmmmm good.

  • Kenzie

    I can’t wait to try this. My mom loves greek salad and we are throwing a surprise party for her, and this will definitely be on the menu! YUM. Gotta love the olives and onions.. dressing looks amazing as well.
    -Kenzie
    Deep Fryers

  • Janet

    The best Greek Salad I ever had was in Budapest, Hungary, where they take their fresh veggies (especially peppers) very seriously. And it had NO LETTUCE.

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