Glad you’re cookin’ with me today!
Being at the Jersey shore in August is amazing! The water is warm, clear, and the towns are hopping with residents, vacationers and weekenders! One of my favorite pass times other than sitting on the beach with my bourbon slush or blueberry mojito is shopping along Asbury Avenue in Ocean City, NJ. And when it comes to Olive Oils and Vinegars for my recipes, it has to be Capella’s Olive Oil and Vinegar Store! I stopped in this past weekend and was in heaven! Debbie (the owner) was in and excited to help me test out some new items and some pairings!
But with August on the East Coast comes the heat and humidity! Sometimes a salad makes a great dinner or side dish when you don’t feel like eating something heavy! And have I got the one for you! A traditional Greek Salad with a special combination of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Lemon Cucumber Balsamic Vinegar from Capella’s Ove Oil and Vinegar store in Ocean City, NJ.
There are times when having a salad in and of itself fills you up and gives you everything you need at lunch or dinnertime. But this week I made my Greek Salad as a side dish to an amazing dinner we had with our friends in Ocean City, NJ. I had a London Broil marinating in a homemade steak sauce (I’ll get that recipe together for you soon), Joanne had Apricot Glazed Chicken Breasts, and fresh corn on the cob from the local farmer’s market.
I included lots of traditional ingredients like cucumbers, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onion, peppers, grape tomatoes, and added bacon just for fun! And combining some kosher salt, cracked black pepper and the EVOO and Cucumber Lemon Balsamic Vinegar from Capella’s made a divine combination dressing for this salad! Then I added a couple lemon peels to sit in the dressing for 15 or so minutes to marinate so that lemon flavor comes through even more!
When we sat down to eat, we asked each other whether we grew up eating salad before, during or after dinner. Being Italian, it was customary in my family to eat salad either with or after dinner (to help with digestion). How funny is that! Our friends typically served salad it with dinner and restaurants typically serve it as a first or second course before dinner! Now having salad before dinner does help to fill me up so I don’t eat as much of the dinner entrée, and for me I should always have salad before dinner because I LOVE TO EAT! I read where Greek families like to serve their salad before dinner as it is supposed to stimulate the appetite! And whenever or however you decide to eat this salad it will certainly stimulate your appetite! You will go back for seconds! Maybe even thirds!
Yet I do like the idea of being customary and serving it later. Italians also used to make a whole day of eating! How great is that! It was more than eating, though. My mother would say “Sunday was a day for family” and told stories of her father’s family sitting at the table from noon until 8 pm! Eating course, after course, after course. We heard these stories over and over again, but that’s another story for another day!
Regardless of when you eat your salad before, during or after dinner, or even make it a meal by adding chicken, steak, salmon or even tuna, enjoy those greens in a traditional Greek way and savor its healthy goodness with friends and family, or even on a quiet night by yourself!
Until next time……
Let’s Get Cookin’
Greek Salad with EVOO and Lemon Cucumber Balsamic Vinegar
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Cutting Board
- 1 head Romaine lettuce (about 6 cups cut up in bite size pieces)
- 1 cup peppers (any color cut in bite size pieces)
- ½ cup Kalamata olives (or you can substitute black olives)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- ⅓ lb. bacon, cooked crisp and roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cups cucumber, halved lengthwise and cut in half-moon shaped pieces
- ½ cup red onion, chopped
- 4 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled
Greek Salad Lemon Cucumber Dressing
- 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) I use Capella's brand
- 3 TBLSP Lemon Cucumber Balsamic Vinegar I use Capella's brand, but you can substitute white or dark balsamic vinegar and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 slices lemon peel
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 sprig fresh mint or oregano for garnish or mixed in with the salad
- Chop Romaine and all the vegetables according to the instructions.
- Toss all together in a large salad bowl.
- Whisk the EVOO, Balsamic Vinegar, lemon peels, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Let the dressing sit for a few minutes, then whisk again right before drizzling on the salad.
- Drizzle the salad dressing onto the salad.
- Toss the salad so the dressing is fully absorbed.
- Serve the salad as an entrée or side. Optional: add grilled chicken, steak, salmon or tuna for a heartier salad!