A Little On The Lighter Side: Greek Salad

After a carefree weekend full of my dietary needs not being top priority (it started with Thursday's mac and cheese at the Publick House and went downhill from there..) I was left feeling sluggish and craving something fresh and nutritionally sound. It feels like I've been trying to get in all the cold weather comfort food I can before spring ushers in a new crop of fresh vegetables and naturally lighter meals.   So today I made simple salad that I guess you could classify as some sort of Mediterranean fare.  Along with my salad, I served a whole wheat pita that I toasted up and brushed with a little extra virgin olive oil and then topped with za'atar, which is a blend of sumac, thyme, sesame seeds and salt.  Za'atar is just something a little different that just switches things up a bit and keeps things interesting.  The sesame seeds also give off a subtle little crunch that is a great compliment to the chewy pita bread.  This step of course is optional and if you can't find this spice blend, you could just oregano and sea salt to top your pita bread.

Salads sometimes have the reputation for being lame and boring but I find that if you add new flavors and textures to it, it suddenly becomes a little more interesting.  I like to try various lettuces, fruits, vegetables and toppings to make it different every time.  Really, the options are endless.  Salads are also a great way to use up leftover ingredients and they are a great choice for workday lunches because they travel well.  Just buy some plastic containers and don't dress the salad until just before serving otherwise it will get soggy.

Greek Salad  
- A couple large handfuls of arugula lettuce
- 2 small tomatoes (I recommend either tomato on the vine or roma)
- 1 small cucumber or a portion of a seedless English cucumber
- Feta cheese (to sprinkle on top)
- 1 piece of whole wheat pita bread
- Sprinkling of za'atar seasoning
- Extra virgin olive oil, both to brush on the pita bread and some
  to drizzle on top of the salad
- Red wine vinegar to sprinkle over the salad
- The juice from half of a lemon
- Dried oregano, to sprinkle over the salad
- Salt and pepper to taste

Start by brushing the pita bread with some extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of za'atar.  Toast the pita bread in an oven at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes or until just crunchy.  Slice the cucumbers and the tomatoes.  Arrange arugula on the plate and spread the tomatoes and cucumbers around the lettuce.  Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and lemon juice over the salad.  Sprinkle oregano and add salt and pepper to taste.  Crumble feta on top and serve immediately with the pita bread on the side.  To this salad, you could also add kalamata olives or pepperoncinis to give it an extra Greek twist.


Anonymous said...

The salad looks and sounds delicious, however, I have never heard of a spice called sumac. Where might I find the ingredient za'atar? Here again, I have never heard of it. Does it have a big "kick" to it? Love your blog - now I always know what I can make for dinner. You are the best!!

The Small Boston Kitchen said...

Great question, sorry I should have talked a little more about za'atar and in turn, sumac. Sumac is a typically in powder form and is from a berry. It provides food with a tart and very earthy flavor. It is Middle Eastern in origin and is a usual component of za'tar which is a mix of spices also often used in Middle Eastern cooking.

I personally like to switch things up and try new flavors, especially drawing on other cuisines - it keeps things interesting! I got my za'tar through an online site that I use to buy a lot of uncommon herbs and spices (www.penezys.com) but I'm willing to bet you could find this at whole foods or any specialty food store.

Good luck!

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