It’s Greek for Me!

16 Feb

I met Michelle Bernstein when she made an appearance at Macy’s promoting her cookbook Cuisine a Latina (2008) that she wrote with Andrew Friedman. I was intrigued by her diverse cooking repertoire – with a Midwestern father and a mother who grew up in Argentina – she embraces many cultures when she cooks – so a Greek salad makes sense, I guess!

This is the perfect year-round salad but especially so if you live in the Midwest where fresh produce is lacking during the winter. I served this as a salad first course, and then enjoyed it for lunch for the next two days. It is bright, it is colorful, it is healthy and it is unbelievably delicious – tangy and crunchy, too!

I made my own Za’tar but you can find the seasoning at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Greek-Style Chopped Salad

2 cups diced (½-inch) English (seedless hothouse) cucumber (about 1 cucumber)

1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup diced (½-inch) seeded red bell pepper

1 cup diced (½-inch) celery

1 cup diced (½-inch) plum tomatoes

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white part only (2-3 bunches)

8 ounces feta cheese, preferably French, crumbled

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

16 kalamata olives, pitted and very thinly sliced

Greek-Style Dressing – recipe follows

Put the cucumber, chickpeas, bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, romaine, scallions, feta, parsley and olives in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing, if desired, toss again.

Divide among four to six salad plates or serve family style from the bowl.

Greek-Style Dressing

Juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon za’atar

⅛ teaspoon ground sumac (optional)

½ cup olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the lemon juice, za’atar and sumac, if using, in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops, then adding it in a thin stream until the dressing comes together in a thick emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The dressing can be refrigerated in an an airtight container for up to three days.

Fresh Za’atar

¼ cup minced fresh thyme

¼ cup minced fresh mint

¼ cup toasted sesame seeds

2 tablespoons ground sumac

Combine all the ingredients. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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