Greek summer salads are simple to make, they taste great, they are so nicely balanced for your diet and health, and they are in the light side when it comes to digestion. Of course, there are some exceptions, but that’s no surprise since many salads can be turned into serious meals.
Greek summer salads are perfect for lunch or dinner
Greek summer salads are perfect for lunch or dinner or even for a midnight snack if you are a night-owl. When we say “summer salads”, for Greeks it means mixing fresh vegetables (they exist in abundance in Greece) together with spices and herbs, Greek olives and delicious Greek feta cheese, with grilled meat, fish or seafood… Everything is seasoned with Greek extra virgin olive oil, and either balsamic vinegar or plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Greeks don’t make a science of their cuisine – they use what they have in abundance and make of their dishes a state of art. It doesn’t mean they are not good cooks – quite the opposite!! Greeks simply love food, cooking, and sharing meals. And that love, intertwined with Greek sun and sea-bathed soil, makes the whole world of food in Greece something particular. Salads belong there as well. Greek summer salads are mostly refreshing appetizers or dishes that Greeks can eat all day, and every day.
Interestingly enough, many Greek salads have a very long tradition and haven’t changed almost at all since their interception. Of course, Greeks have accepted all culinary novelties that came to their ports in last few centuries, adding them to their diverse natural garden. Tomatoes were a new “good” at the times when feta cheese, olive oil, and other ingredients of Greek salad were already established food in the country. What to say about potatoes? They were initially refused by Greek farmers of the New World.
Summer Salads in Greece
Developing tourism in Greece added to the traditional Greek summer menu: not only the gorgeous islands and romantic sunsets at the beaches were the main advantages in the tourism offer of Greece. Knowing what kind of treasure they have, Greeks turned their whole cuisine into an extra reason to visit Greece.
With all kind of dieting and fusion-cuisine trends, Greeks preserved their food tradition. And more than that: they make their overall presentation unique and memorable. Truth is that Greek tomatoes taste “a-la Greek” only in Greece. You can not find that climate and soil for tomatoes anywhere else! How many tourists send desperate messages online asking their cyber community “what was that amazing dressing in tomato-feta salad we had?”. The simple truth is as simple as it can get: just a combination of Greek extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice!
Ingredients for Greek Summer Salads
It is unbelievable how many savory salads Greeks make using just a few basic ingredients: tomatoes, feta cheese, olive oil, basil, dry oregano, lemon…Add a little bit of cucumbers, a little bit of roasted eggplant, a little bit of capers, whatever…and you will get every day a new salad. And it will be always fresh and delicious.
The secret of Greek summer salads is the non-exhaustable source of vegetables and herbs. Herbs and spices are something Greeks are very proud of. Many of them came to Greek cuisine in the ancient times and later, during the Ottoman occupation. Having a perfect climate for their cultivation, Greeks really made a big deal of incorporating them in everyday food preparation.
Some of Greek famous summer salads are often called “dips” – tzatziki or melitzanosalata for example. The truth it, they can be eaten both as dip, spread or salad. Serving a plate of tzatziki or melitzanosalata just with pita bread, makes them a dip or a spread. Tzatziki goes to souvlaki and then it’s more of a sauce. Still, both of them you can eat with other dishes as salads. Tzatziki accompanies meat really well, especially pork, lamb or beef. Melitzanosalata goes well with all vegetable dishes. For Greeks they are simply salads.