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Greek Salad with Mediterranean Dressing

In Greece, this healthy recipe is typically known as a summer salad, for it showcases vegetables plentiful at markets during that time of year. But in America, it’s a year-round standby in local restaurants and diners across the country. This rustic country salad has chunks of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, plus cubed fresh and Greek Kalamata olives. Small pickled peppers called pepperoncini also often appear. Look for the golden Greek varieties, as they are the sweeter than the Italian kinds.

This recipe uses Mediterranean dressing. Typically a Mediterranean dressing starts with red-wine vinegar and an aromatic olive oil. Add a few herbs such as basil and oregano and, of course, some fresh garlic. Use it to dress a Greek salad or hearty pasta salads, drizzle it over broiled fish, or try it as a dressing for steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or fingerling potatoes.

Yield: 4 to 6 side salads

Ingredients:

For Mediterranean dressing:

  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and coarsely ground black pepper

For Greek salad:

  • 6 to 8 large ripe Roma tomatoes or 3 large heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 extra-large or 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 cup pitted whole black Greek olives, preferably Kalamata
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • Pickled pepperoncini for garnish

Instructions:

For Mediterranean dressing:

1. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, basil, and oregano together in a small deep bowl.

2. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly, until the dressing thickens slightly and emulsifies. Season to your taste with salt and pepper. Store in the refrigerator.

For Greek salad:

1. Prepare the vegetables and place in a large salad bowl: Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch chunks. Peel, seed, and cut the cucumbers into 1-inch chunks. Stem and seed both bell peppers and remove the white ribs. Cut into 1-inch triangles. Peel the onion and cut into a 1-inch dice. Add the olives and toss. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Right before serving, whisk the dressing again and drizzle over the chilled salad. Cut the feta into half-inch cubes. Top the salad with the cheese. Garnish the salad bowl with hot peppers is desired.

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