Special to CSMS MagazineFor us in America, it is called Greek salad, but in Greece itself, it is called “village salad. It is a salad made out of cucumbers, onions, peppers, olives, tomatoes, and feta. Although we are accustomed to having lettuce in our garden salad, here it is rarely served. Many nutritionists agree that the key to making a perfect Greek salad lies in two things: the feta and the Kalamata olives. It is in the best interest of anyone who wants to make a good Greek salad to use this thing: barrel-aged feta, which is a process that keeps the salad firm “but creamy with a nice strong flavor.” Use French feta. “It is creamier, and there are many choices, so taste as many as you can and simply choose your favorite. And if you have access to a Greek market, beg them for barrel-aged feta.” (Food and Wine Magazine) Also, it is recommended that to include cauliflower and Brussels sprouts up two day ahead of time, but the squash is better cooked and eaten the same day. According to Food and Wine Magazine, the recipe goes this way:1 small to medium buttercup squash (about 2 pounds)2 tablespoon1 tablespoon salt plus more to tastePepper to tasteIce cubes½ head cauliflower, cored and washedPinch of baking soda8 Brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed and cut in half lengthwise1 bulb fennel, quartered, cored, tough outer layer removed and cut into ¼ -to-inch dice1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into a ¼-to-1/2-inch dice16 Kalamata olives, pitted½ red onion, peeled and finely chopped2 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large amount)4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 teaspoons dried, sieved oregano (see page 246)1 pound barrel-aged or French feta cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Cut the squash in half widthwise and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice each half into quarters and then into eighths so that you have 8 wedges of squash. Toss the squash with the 2 tablespoons olive oil on a heavy baking sheet and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Roast the squash in the oven for about 25 minutes, until just tender. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare a medium bowl of ice water.
- Bring a 2-quart sauce of water to boil over high heat and season with 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Using a small paring knife or your fingers, break the cauliflower to the water and boil for 4 minutes, or until it is just tender. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cauliflower from the water and drop it into ice water. Let it chill for about 3 minutes, drain well, pat dry with paper towels, and set aside.
- Prepare another medium bowl of ice water.
- Add a pinch of baking soda to the pot of boiling water and drop the Brussels sprouts in. The baking soda helps keep the Brussels sprouts a nice bright green, but don’t add more than a pinch, or they will turn out mushy. Cook them for about 5 minutes, or until they are just tender.
- Drain the Brussels sprouts and place them in the bowl of ice water to chill for about 5 minutes. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels, and set aside.
- When the squash is cool enough to handle, remove the skin by placing the wedges skin-side down on a cutting board and running a paring knife between the skin and the squash, staying as close to the skin as possible. Cut the squash into ½ -inch chunks and place them into a large mixing bowl. You should have 1-½ cups of diced squash.
- Cut the cores off the Brussels sprouts and break the leaves up with your fingers. Add the leaves and the cauliflower to the mixing bowl with the squash.
- Add the fennel and the apple to the rest of the vegetables. Stir to combine them and sprinkle the top with the olives.
- Prepare the vinaigrette in a small mixing bowl; whisk together the onion, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for at least 5 minutes to lightly pickle the onion (it will turn bright pink) before dressing the salad.
- Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette and season the salad bowls and top each salad with salt and pepper.
- To serve, cut the feta into 8 salad slices. Spoon the salad bowls and top each salad with a slice of feta. (Source: Food and wine magazine)
Also see Blueberry Meringue TartsEating right is all that matters, not how muchHave you tried grilled turkey burgers with avocado mayonnaise?Chipotle Grilled Chicken with Avocado SalsaNote: Jane Alexis is a nutritionist who lives and works in Saint Augustine, Florida.