Do you know the feeling of watching movies and wishing you were right there in the scene? Or is it just me?
I especially love movies that feature a group of old friends enjoying a long summer lunch in the backyard and sipping on a fruity watermelon cocktail. The backdrop is filled with orange trees and olive trees, and even though lunch is over, it’s nice to just lounge about and graze on cheese.
Whenever I’m making this Greek salad, I try to picture myself in a movie like that. I’ll have a nice, slow lunch and then take a dip in the pool when I’m done.
Okay, snap out of it, Cassandra!
Back to this recipe. This Greek salad has loads of healthy vegetables and is full of strong flavors thanks to the feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Whether you’re having this as a main course or a side dish, you will not be disappointed.
It’s also great for sharing and has lots of interesting variations, so take it easy and just have fun with it!
Chop up these vegetables (and feta cheese) to fill up a large salad bowl. This Greek salad will be filled with bright colors by the time you’re done.
- English cucumber – Mildly sweet and simply refreshing, English cucumbers will balance out the dominant flavors of red onions and olives.
- Cherry tomatoes – There are red and yellow cherry tomatoes. I use red ones in this recipe, but feel free to use yellow ones if you’d like.
- Red onion – Red onion has a really pungent smell and can leave a lingering aftertaste. To reduce that, chop it into smaller pieces and soak it in vinegar. (See Expert Tips & Tricks for more information).
- Pitted Kalamata olives – This dark brown olive with a meaty texture is a salty addition together with feta cheese. Expect strong flavors and adapt accordingly. Green olives will also do just fine, except they carry a slightly bitter and tangy taste.
- Feta cheese – A must-have for Greek recipes. I recommend buying a block of feta and crumbling it with your hands. It will get messy, but it’s more fun that way and tastes a thousand times better than pre-crumbled feta.
This delicious dressing and the loaded salad are a match made in heaven. To make the dressing, you will need:
- Extra-virgin olive oil – We will start with a base of extra virgin olive oil.
- Red wine vinegar – This slightly alcoholic vinegar has a sharp, punchy taste.
- Garlic – Minced garlic adds depth to the dressing and gives it a nutty taste that complements the onion in the salad.
- Dried oregano – Herbs like oregano lift the dressing and make it really aromatic.
- Dijon mustard – Just a little bit of dijon mustard can thicken the dressing and make it slightly creamy.
- Salt and black pepper – Sprinkle salt and black pepper to taste.
Step One: Prepare the vegetables. Peel the English cucumbers and then cut in half, lengthwise. Then, slice the cucumber around the circumference and you should get semi-circles.
Slice cherry tomatoes and pitted Kalamata olives into half. Chop red onion and mince garlic. Keep the garlic for later when making the dressing.
Add all the vegetables and crumbled feta cheese into a large bowl. Then, toss to combine.
Step Two: In a small bowl or mason jar, whisk the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, dijon mustard, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Another way is to close the lid of the mason jar and shake it well (might as well dance while you’re at it).
- Pro tip: Before sprinkling oregano into the dressing, rub it between your fingers or palms to release the fragrant oregano oils. This works, whether you’re using fresh or dried oregano.
Step Three: Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing gently but thoroughly. Dig in immediately! If saving for later, chill it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Expert Tips & Tricks
Don’t over-season the salad dressing:
If the dressing doesn’t taste complete from the get-go, it’s totally fine. The flavors in the salad ingredients will fill in the missing pieces! The last thing you want is to have the dressing overpower the freshness of the vegetables.
Try this trick to mellow down red onions:
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with red onions. On one hand, I like their crunch and flavor, especially in burgers and salads. On the other hand, their lingering aftertaste gives me bad onion breath that I can’t get rid of until the next day.
This insider trick changed my life: just soak sliced onions in a bowl of water before serving them. This one simple step dissipates the onion’s sulfur compounds (the stuff that gives onions that harsh taste) and you get a more mellow flavor.
Add-ins & Variations
A rule of thumb is to treat this recipe as a guideline and adapt it to suit your liking. If you’re not a fan of onions, skip them! Or, use however much or little of any vegetable as you want. It’s your salad, after all.
Add more vegetables:
You can never have too many vegetables in a salad. To create some variety, toss in some green and red bell peppers (cut them in half, remove the seeds, and slice them thinly). Mushrooms, carrots, or beetroot are fantastic too!
Fancy some meat in your salad?
Crispy bacon bits, salamis, or grilled chicken breast make excellent meats to go along with these vegetables.
Check out more salad recipes below:
- Summer Berry Salad With Candied Almonds & Goat Cheese
- Easy Mediterranean Chicken Salad
- Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Delicious Steak Salad With Yogurt Dressing
Greek Salad Recipe
For The Dressing
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 garlic clove minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano more for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For The Salad
- 1 English cucumber peeled and cut lengthwise, each half cut lengthwise again, seeded, and sliced
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- ¾ cups feta cheese crumbled
- ⅓ cup red onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives halved
- Whisk together in a small bowl or jar the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, oregano, dijon mustard, salt, and several grinds of pepper.
- In a large bowl, add the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, olives and feta cheese.
- Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.