7 Traditional Greek Salads Beyond the Familiar
When traveling in Greece, I was struck by the wonderful complexity of the salad culture. At every meal, during the mezes or appetizer spread, there were terrific salads, and none of them were the "Greek Salad" I was familiar with. Now, there is nothing at all wrong with a plate of iceberg or romaine lettuce topped with cucumber, tomato, onion, in a red wine vinaigrette with dried oregano, garnishes with kalamata olives and feta cheese. I will eat one of those happily all day long. But if you like that version of Greek salad, then you may want to explore the full range of traditional, healthy Greek salads out there! Most of them are very simple and can be thrown together without a real recipe. Here are some of our favorites!
This is a cooked salad of bitter greens tossed with lemon, olive oil, and salt. It can be made with dandelion greens to be super traditional, or other bitter greens like chicory, endive, or escarole. The greens are chopped and boiled in salted water for about 15-20 minutes then drained, tossed with the oil and lemon juice, and served warm or at room temperature.
This salad is the one that is closest to the ones you find on American menus, minus the lettuce. A blend of tomatoes, cucumber, onion, green pepper, feta, and olives, dressed with oil and vinegar, the lack of lettuce means that leftovers don't wilt and are just as delicious the next day.
A salad of cooked green beans with a lot of chopped parsley, dressed with a garlic vinaigrette, and served either hot or at room temperature, this is a great salad for barbecues or other gatherings where a salad might need to sit out for a while. You can zhuzh it up with fresh tomatoes and crumbled feta.
Eggplant salad in Greece is similar to baba ghanoush, and can be a spread, side dish, or garnish for grilled meats. Roasted eggplant is mashed with grated onion, lemon juice, and a generous amount of olive oil to make it creamy and smooth. Sometimes hard cheeses are grated in, parmesan would be a good addition.
Potato salad in Greece is a far cry from the creamy potato salads we are familiar with here. Potatoes are boiled whole, then the skins slipped off while still hot, and sliced or broken into pieces. The still hot potatoes are then dressed with either vinegar or lemon juice and salt, allowing them to absorb them, and then tossed with olive oil, grated onion, or sliced scallion, chopped parsley, or dill. It is a whole new way to potato salad, and once you try it, you may never go back to mayo!
Lahanosalata (Greek Cabbage Salad)
This salad is "simplicity at its best," says Diana Moutsopoulos, the recipe submitter. " This cabbage salad is a mainstay in Greek homes, especially in winter. The crunchy shredded cabbage takes center stage and I prefer to mix in some carrot, too, though this is optional.'
Maroulosalata (Greek Romaine Salad)
This may be the simplest of all the Greek salads, but one of the best. Shredded romaine lettuce is mixed with thinly sliced scallions, chopped herbs, usually a mix of parsley, dill, and mint, and dressed with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper. It is bright and grassy and herbal, with just enough bite from the scallions. A perfect accompaniment to fish or grilled meats.