Here is a Greek salad recipe that only requires a few ingredients. Consider bringing this cool, crisp and fresh side dish to your next picnic or potluck!
Mediterranean meals need Mediterranean sides, right? There’s no shortage of side dish options here at Unicorns in the Kitchen. Greek potatoes, Greek chickpea salad and, of course, tzatziki are a few of our go-to options when we’re looking for an fresh and easy side dish.
What is Greek Salad?
Greek salad, also called Horiatiki salad or village salad, is a simple salad recipe that’s common throughout Greece and the Mediterranean region. Authentic Greek salad is served at almost every local and family-owned restaurant in Greece as an appetizer or side dish. You may even have tried a salad like this at your local Greek restaurant!
Here is what you need to make an authentic Greek salad:
- Tomatoes – Use Roma tomatoes. Try to find tomatoes that are firm and not too watery.
- Olives – Kalamata olives are the best choice. They give the salad a nice salty flavor.
- Red onion – Adds a crisp, fresh flavor to your salad. Don’t skip it!
- Cucumber – An essential part of many Mediterranean salads. Persian cucumbers work best; if using English cucumbers, remove the seeds.
- Green bell pepper – A few slices adds a subtle sweetness.
- Feta cheese – Feta is the quintessential Mediterranean cheese and pairs well with the above vegetables. Read more on Cook’s Illustrated about feta cheese.
Those of you who follow our collection of Persian recipes might notice that Greek salad has a lot in common with salad shirazi. However, unlike salad shirazi, in this Greek salad recipe we cut our ingredients into big chunks, rather than finely dicing them. A creamy block of feta brings so much flavor to this salad. There are no leafy greens in this recipe, so feel free to chop the ingredients ahead of time and assemble everything right before serving.
As for seasoning, all you need is a pinch of salt, pepper, and some oregano. Serve with extra virgin olive oil for an authentic Mediterranean dish.
Once you have all your ingredients ready, all you need to do is to chop tomatoes and cucumbers into big chunks, cut the kalamata olives in half (or just add them whole), slice the red onion thinly, and cut the green bell pepper into rings. You can also cut the green bell pepper into chunks but most chefs find that rings are more aesthetically pleasing on the plate.
Add all the chopped vegetables into a large bowl and then mix well with salt, pepper and oregano. Transfer the vegetables to the serving plate and top with chunks of feta cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and serve cold.
Variations you can try
Simplicity is the key to an authentic Greek salad. However, there’s nothing wrong with adding a few extra ingredients to suit your tastes. Here are some suggestions:
- Lettuce: you can use different types of lettuce such as iceberg, butter or romaine.
- Quinoa: cooked red or regular quinoa would work well.
- Beets: pickled or cooked beets are a good addition.
- Artichoke hearts
- Chickpeas: canned chickpeas turn this salad into a full meal.
- Lentils: cooked lentils make a great addition and source of protein.
- Orzo: if you really want to add pasta, orzo would be a good choice!
You’ll find lots of different variations on this essential Greek recipe as you travel. I’ve seen many restaurants in Istanbul that serve a basic side salad just like this, often with the addition of a spicy green pepper or two to liven up the flavors a little bit!
What main dishes pair well with this salad?
This Greek salad recipe goes well with lots of tasty Mediterranean dishes such as Greek meatballs (keftedes), eggplant moussaka and even our ever-popular shish tawook chicken kabob recipe. Trust me, this salad pairs well with just about any Mediterranean main you can think of!
Notes and tips
- How long does Greek salad last in the fridge? Since this simple cucumber salad doesn’t have a creamy dressing or leafy greens, it can last for about three days in the fridge. However, I personally prefer to make and eat it fresh.
- Can I double (or even triple) this recipe? Absolutely! Simply multiply the amount of the ingredients as desired. Place the sliced feta on the salad right before serving.
- Don’t crumble the feta! Traditionally, the feta is cut into slices and placed on the salad before serving.
- Since Greek salad is a simple salad made with a handful of fresh ingredients and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano and olive oil, it’s important that all your ingredients are high quality. Pay attention to the quality of the kalamata olives and ensure that the cucumbers aren’t too seedy.
Be sure to also check out our Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad!
Traditional Greek Salad Recipe
- 4 Roma tomatoes cut into chunks
- 1 cup kalamat olives cut in half
- 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
- 3 Persian cucumbers cut into chunks
- 1 green bell pepper cut into rings
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/8 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 8 oz creamy feta cheese sliced
- Place tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion, Persian cucumbers and green bell pepper in a large bowl.
- Add salt, pepper and oregano to the vegetables and mix well.
- Add the olive oil and toss all the vegetables. Add more olive oil if needed.
- Transfer the salad into a serving plate and top with chunks of feta cheese.
- Serve immediately or cold.