Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Greek Summer Salad

Day #2 of "official summer" brings perhaps even less productivity than Day 1. Yesterday, I ran several errands and was "domestic," turning that delicious leftover pork into a hawaiian pizza with caramelized onions and pineapples (my ohana loved it, mahalo!), watched a fascinating documentary about North Korean gymnasts, and fell asleep on the couch at 9:30. I told myself that today, I would work on articles. Alas! Lindsey called yesterday and suggested an impromptu pool party/run. I need to run, and I also need a pool party, which means I should take advantage of these activities as suggested. Articles can wait until later.

As my contribution to the impromptu pool party for people who can have random pool time in the middle of the day in the middle of the week (ie: teachers/grad students on break... so sorry, Amy & Anna, Lindsey's roommates who have to work all year round), I'm bringing my favorite side dish/snack item for the summer: a Greek vegetable salad. It is in my fridge about every two weeks, as it's easy, cold, refreshing, healthy, and tasty. Oh, and it's pretty! Look at how colorful:

Whenever I feel the need for a snack, this tends to be what I reach for if it's available. I'm sure this is not an original recipe, and I can't remember where I pieced it together from, but here's my version, perfected over multiple tries, with a few optional ingredients.

Greek Summer Salad
1/4 cup really finely diced red onion (optional)
1 large cucumber, diced and seeded (scrape seeds out with a spoon)
1 tomato, diced
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered
handful of kalamata olives, diced
1 cup cooked orzo pasta OR 1 can chickpeas, rinsed & drained (I like both, depends on if I feel like cooking pasta or not)
some feta cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon plain vinegar
dried oregano
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
handful of chopped parsley

Place diced cucumber in a small plastic container, sprinkle with a little salt and about a tablespoon of plain vinegar. Make sure cucumber is coated in the vinegar/salt. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then drain the liquid. It's amazing how much liquid comes out of those cucumbers.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, tomato, artichoke hearts, olives, and pasta or chickpeas in a medium-sized bowl. Make the dressing by combining the oregano, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and maybe some pepper. Add drained cucumbers to the veggie mixture, then top with parsley, then combine with the dressing. Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving - this salad gets a little better with each passing day. Top with feta (optional) immediately before serving.

This is perfect for summer outdoor gatherings because there is NO mayonnaise involved in the recipe, which means it doesn't matter so much if it sits outside for family picnics/potlucks/reunions/concerts/pool days. The vinaigrette is so light and refreshing, and it's perfect for the vegetarian friends in your life. Heck, the whole dish is healthy, yet super delicious. Can you tell I love this salad? :) Anyone else make a similar salad with other things I haven't thought of yet?

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