This authentic Greek salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and simple oregano vinaigrette is easy to prepare and full of flavor.
Greek salad made the way it was meant to be with chopped crunchy vegetables, big hunks of feta cheese, olives, and a simple dressing made with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and plenty of oregano.
Did you know that a traditional Greek salad doesn't have any lettuce? That's right. For a real deal, Greek style salad, you need to put down the Romaine lettuce. It's all about the crunchy vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and oregano. It's pure. It's simple. It lets the ingredients really shine through.
Now with that said, if you are looking for a more American style Greek salad, just add some crunchy Romaine and extra dressing. It will still taste amazing.
Now back to the salad. Authentic Greek salads are usually on the rustic side. The vegetables are cut into larger pieces. It's top with large chunks of feta cheese or even just one large slice. In fact, most of the time it doesn't even have dressing. The olive oil and red wine vinegar are served in the side and you dress it yourself.
This salad is a bit more refined since I like to cut the vegetables a bit smaller and prepare a perfectly seasoned vinaigrette to serve on top. Everything is finished with an extra sprinkling or oregano. It's so flavorful, super refreshing, and an easy side dish to make for any meal.
What's in a traditional Greek salad?
Let's start by talking about what's not normally in Greek salad - lettuce. That's right, traditional Greek salad does not contain lettuce. Here are the key ingredients:
- Cucumbers: Almost any type of cucumber can be used in Greek salad. My personal preference is to use an English (hothouse) cucumber or Persian cucumbers since they don't need to be peeled and shave smaller seeds. Regular cucumbers can be used as well. Just peel them first and scoop out the seeds so they don't add extra water or bitterness to the salad.
- Tomatoes: Any type of tomato can be used in this salad, but choose something that is red and ripe. Smaller tomatoes, like cherry or grape tomatoes, will release less liquid into the salad and are easy to prep.
- Red Onions: Thinly sliced red onion adds a needed bite and balance to this salad. Try not to substitute in a white or yellow onion since it has less natural sweetness. If you need a substitute, use shallots.
- Green Pepper: Bell peppers add some added crunch and sweetness to this salad. This ingredient is often missed when making a Greek-style salad but it's worth including. You can use red, orange, or yellow bell pepper as well.
- Feta Cheese: For a traditional salad, use either one larger slice of feta cheese or cubes. Authentic salads do not use crumbled feta cheese, although it works as well. For the best flavor, look for feta cheese that is packed in brine.
- Kalamata Olives: This is a Greek salad, so it's best to use Greek black olives. Kalamata olives are the easiest to find and add saltiness and brine to the salad. Any black olive will work.
- Oregano: This spice is key to building the flavors in this salad. It can be incorporated into the dressing or simply tossed with the entire salad. Traditionally, dried oregano is used.
- Olive oil: To finish this salad, everything is drizzled with olive oil. Ideally, this would be Greek olive oil. Then it's seasoned with salt and pepper. Since feta and olives are salty, be careful with how much is added.
- Optional: Lemon and/or red wine vinegar are sometimes used in Greek salads either in the dressing or simply drizzled on top.
How to make Greek salad Dressing?
Greek salad dressing is one that I love having in the fridge since it tastes delicious on salads but also serves as a great option for marinating meats, drizzling on vegetables, or adding to wraps. Here is my go-to Greek dressing. This makes a larger batch.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper
Recipe Ideas and Twists
There are a lot of ways to customize and personalize this salad. Here are some favorites:
- Add protein with grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp, or use chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
- Double or triple the salad dressing and add cooked pasta to make a big Greek pasta salad.
- For some extra flavor and briny flavor, consider adding some chopped pepperoncini peppers or capers.
- Although completely untraditional, this salad is delicious with some chopped salami for a Greek inspired antipasto style salad.
- Go ahead and add some crunchy Romaine lettuce for a more voluminous salad. You will probably need some extra dressing.
- Serve this with some toasted pita bread on the side. If you have a gas stove, you can toast it right over the flame for a few seconds on each side.
How long can you store Greek salad?
With this type of salad, it's always best to dress the salad right before serving so the vegetables stay nice and fresh. If you want to prep this in advance, you can. Just pack the dressing on the side. Also, I find it keeps best if you use cherry tomatoes and keep them whole. That way the tomatoes don't break down at all.
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- 1 U English cucumber
- 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 U green pepper, sliced
- 1/4 U red onion, sliced thin (more to taste)
- 3/4 cup feta cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- Salt and pepper
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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