Sometimes it’s the side dish that makes a meal. This adaptation of a classic diner Greek salad is a star in its own right. Pair it with simple salt-and-pepper grilled lamb chops or kabobs (lamb, chicken or shrimp), perhaps with a dollop of minty yogurt alongside, and you’ll have a lovely dinner that takes hardly any time to prepare.
Instead of the traditional romaine, I use thinly shaved fennel as the base for the salad, which provides a flavorful, sweet crunch. Tossed with grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber, red onion, olives, feta and a handful of parsley and mint, it’s a lively, refreshing salad full of textural contrasts. It can even be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated, making it a great choice for barbecues or potlucks. If I have leftovers, I add chickpeas and eat it for lunch the next day.
Work and life have been really busy of late, and I’m grateful that my farmer’s market is in full swing. With a refrigerator brimming with market finds (I can’t contain myself when faced with frilly fennel and crimson grape tomatoes), it’s easier than ever to let vegetables and salads take center stage.
Greek Goodness Salad
- ¼ medium red onion , very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 large garlic clove , grated on microplane
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium fennel bulb , stalks discarded, fronds reserved
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes , quartered or halved
- 1 medium English cucumber , halved and very thinly sliced
- ½ cup pitted kalamata olives , halved
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- 4 ounces feta cheese (or to taste), crumbled
Put the onion in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit while assembling the rest of the ingredients (this will take the “bite” out of the onion).
In a small bowl or jar, combine the red wine vinegar, grated garlic, dried oregano and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit 5-10 minutes to let flavors meld. Add the olive oil and whisk or shake to combine. Do Ahead: The dressing can be made up to 2 days in advance. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
Slice the fennel as thinly as possible using a mandoline or sharp knife. Drain and rinse the onions. In a large bowl, combine the onions, fennel, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, parsley, mint and half of the feta. Do Ahead: The salad can be assembled a couple of hours in advance. Dampen 2-3 paper towels (squeezing out the excess moisture), and lay them on top of the salad (this will prevent it from drying out). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Season the salad with salt and pepper. Whisk (or shake) the dressing to combine. Drizzle about three-quarters of the dressing over the salad. Toss to coat. Taste and add the remaining dressing if needed. Garnish the salad with the remaining feta and the fennel fronds.