UTAH, July 7, 2013—There is a certain point in the summer when the temperature outside surpasses mere hot status, and begins to creep towards surface-of-the-sun. This time of year brings to mind scoops of ice cream that immediately slump off the cone, thighs glued to sticky vinyl car seats in cars with no air-conditioning (yes kids, it really used to be that way), and mirages at the bottom of Death Valley while vultures circle overhead.
When life teeters on the brink of instant vaporization, using the stove or firing up the oven, should be done only after serious thought and a cost-benefit analysis. The kindest thing to do for yourself, and your housemates is make salad. Make lots of it.
Greek Salad is so fresh and crisp. In Greece, it is made from things readily available in the garden: tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions. They throw in some Kalamata olives and tangy fresh feta, and top it off with a bright citrusy dressing that is cool and refreshing. Also, considering that the dressing is made from more fresh garden produce with health-promoting properties, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and oregano, it could almost be called a health tonic.
This recipe is an American riff on Greek salad. The best kind of feta cheese comes in a block and should be crumbled as it is used. Many farmers’ market style grocery stores carry fresh cut feta which is highly recommended for this recipe. Vinaigrette style salad dressing is an emulsion, which is a mixture of two liquids that really don’t like each other, such as oil and lemon juice. With vigorous shaking or mixing, you can force them together resulting in salad dressing. The lemon juice must be freshly squeezed, and the oregano can be chopped in the measuring cup with a pair of kitchen shears. Salt and lemon juice will make the lettuce wilt so the dressing should be added right before serving. There may be salad dressing left over depending on how much you like in your salad, and any extra is a wonderful marinade for grilled chicken or steak.
1 head Romaine lettuce
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped into large dices
4 ounces fresh cut feta cheese
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
½ cup fresh oregano loosely packed, then chopped
freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cut off a few inches of both ends of the head of romaine lettuce. Slice the lettuce at ½ inch intervals and place in a large salad bowl and toss to loosen the pieces. Romaine lettuce will not brown when chopped with a knife. Add onion slices, tomato halves, Kalamata olives to taste, and cucumber. Crumble the feta cheese into the bowl.
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar, cover, and shake until emulsified. Pour over the salad, toss, and serve.
Serves: 8 as a side dish
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