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california greek salad

September 16, 2011

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One of my most favorite places in the world is Greece.  I have only been there once, but since that time I have dreamt of when I would return.  Six years ago, the hubby and I took the girls to Athens, Hydra and then Spetses for the wedding of our dear friends Maria and John.  The views, the people, THE FOOD — Greece is my kind of country.  We were lucky enough to have a Greek friend take us to the “locals” restaurants, the ones where you have to take a little boat to access them; the kind where they bring you to a fish tank and tell you to pick out the fish or lobster you would like for dinner.  Why is it that I can eat dinner in Greece at 11 pm and I feel fabulous the next day, but if I eat after 7pm in the US, I can’t sleep?

Have you read that the people of Crete are among the longest living people in the world?  And I bet they die happy.  The traditional Cretan diet is based on locally grown fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains and legumes and of course, olive oil.  Everything is whole, unprocessed and as fresh as can be.  Cretans especially love their salad and I’m right there with them, especially if it involves feta cheese.  I think the only reason I could never be a vegan is because of feta.  I could wave goodbye to meat and eggs forever, but feta is with me for life.  I became so addicted to the classic Greek salad that I started making it regularly at home.  The girls got my feta-loving genes and are crazy for Greek salads, too, so every now and then I make one for the lunchbox.

Over the last six years my Greek salads have evolved to make the most of what grows beautifully right here in Southern California.  I like to think that if Greece and California had a salad together, it would be this one right here with romaine, sunflower sprouts and more importantly, avocado.   I can’t eat Greek salad anymore without creamy chunks of avocado.  The Reed variety is my absolute favorite and they are in season right now.  Happiness!  I am fortunate that I have access to high quality goat feta from my farmer’s market, as well as a good Bulgarian sheep feta from Whole Foods.  I don’t care for domestic cow feta which tastes salty and dry to me.  Plus, goat and sheep dairy is much easier for us to digest.  Traditionally, the classic Greek salad does not contain lettuce as shown in the last photo here, but I try to put leafy greens in as many things as possible.  I’ve also made this with chickpeas, bell peppers and even diced cooked chicken.  Salad rules are made to be broken.

california greek salad

serves 6

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce (optional)

Juice of ½ a lemon (about 2 Tbs.) or 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

Unrefined extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

1 large handful sunflower sprouts

4 Persian cucumbers, unpeeled, cut in half and then sliced on the diagonal

4 small tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 avocado, cubed

half of a small red onion, sliced very thinly (soaked in ice water to neutralize some of the harsh onion flavor, if desired)

6 ounces feta, cubed

2 Tablespoons capers, drained

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Dried oregano, preferably Greek

  1. Arrange the lettuce on a large platter.  Drizzle with a teaspoon or two of lemon juice or red wine vinegar, a tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the sprouts on top.
  2. Place the cucumbers, tomatoes, avocado, onions and feta in a bowl and drizzle with remaining lemon juice plus enough olive oil to coat lightly.  Arrange on top of the lettuce and sprouts, and sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Distribute the capers and olives on top.  Sprinkle with dried oregano to taste.
Tip:  wash your lettuce as soon as you come home from the market.  Leave it out on a clean kitchen towel to dry and then roll it up in the same towel and keep it in the fridge for a lickety-split salad.
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13 Responses to “california greek salad”

  1. Cheryl says:

    Hi Pamela, This salad is delicious even though I didn’t have the sprouts. I was looking for a recipe on your website that had everything I had in my kitchen. I added balsamic grilled chicken so I used balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Since relocating to DC earlier this month, this is the third recipe I’ve tried. The Orange and Rosemary Chicken is now a staple in my house and every once in a while I make the delicious ginger cookies. Thank you Pamela!

  2. Kamala says:

    This salad was a big hit at our break the fast gathering. I couldn’t find sunflower sprouts and the salad was still delicious!

    • Pamela says:

      True, the sunflower sprouts are not a deal-breaker, but they are crazy nutritious. In LA, every farmer’s market I have been to has a “sprouts lady.” So happy you enjoyed the salad!

    • Sarah says:

      Yes it was! I liked it so much, I’m making it for our classroom get together tonight. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the farmer’s market either and couldn’t find the sprouts at my usual places. Next time, I’ll plan ahead a little better.

  3. Libby says:

    Love your recent Post! Such fond memories of Spetses and the beautiful wedding of John and Maria.

  4. Mia says:

    Your photography is absolutely delish and inspires the preparation of the recipe! I also love Greek salads, but now I want to add some sprouts. Keep up the good work!

  5. Tina hartney says:

    The salad looks amazing! Greek salads are a staple at our house, but never with sunflower sprouts. Can’t wait to try. Thx! Tina
    PS I visited Spetses 23 years ago and your post brought back great memories. :)

    • Pamela says:

      I haven’t started sprouting on my own yet, but I buy very fresh sprouts at the MB farmer’s market. They’re just fun and incredibly good for you (all those live enzymes). Spetses is dreamy. Sigh.

  6. Goldie says:

    I don’t think a week goes by that I am not impired by your posts. Thank you so much, even if I don’t follow your exact recipes it inspires the way I prepare and think about my menu. I love your blog!

  7. holiana sapinsley says:

    pamela
    I just want to thank you for all the fabulous recipes you send. your love for people & what you’re doing comes through so strong, I feel like I know you [and your family]
    many blessing to all of you, holiana

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