The authentic Greek Salad (Horiatiki)
This is our favorite salad and a staple in every Greek household. It's the salad every Greek grew up with. Every Greek knows how to make this salad, that's why there is no meaning publishing this recipe in Greek as we do with all our recipes.
This recipe is simple, it's delicious, and it's one of the cornerstones of the Greek cuisine.
Being native Greeks ourselves, it was rather strange for us to read recipes for "Greek Salad" which had nothing to do with the salads we make here. We noticed that every salad that may contain feta cheese and/or olives may be considered as a "Greek Salad" abroad.
Well, of course every one can create or "adjust" a salad according to the flavors he or she prefers. And that's absolutely great. But allow us in this post, to share the authentic recipe for Greek Salad that is used everywhere in Greece.
Wherever you are in Greece, if you order a Greek Salad (or if you're served one in occasions like backyard parties etc) you will get the Horiatiki salad version. Horiatiki, means "from the village". There are "modernized", non-traditional versions as well (in fancy restaurants, mostly in Athens), but the recipe we want to share here, is the classic, authentic recipe used in 99% of the cases.
The authentic Horiatiki Greek Salad is a very specific salad, with specific ingredients. Those are:
- Tomatoes (not cherry tomatoes but whole tomatoes, cut in wedges)
- Cucumbers (peeled and sliced)
- Red Onions (thinly sliced)
- Green Bell Peppers (thinly sliced)
- Kalamata olives (whole, not pitted)
- Traditional Greek Feta (in a big slice or chunk, never crumbled)
- Extra virgin olive oil (for dressing)
- Dry oregano
The above exist in every Horiatiki Greek Salad you'll eat everywhere in Greece.
There TWO optional ingredients in addition to the above:
- Caper seeds (added mostly in Horiatiki salads served in the Greek islands)
- Red wine vinegar (some people also like to add an extra acidity in their salad)
Since this is a very simple salad, the quality of the ingredients has a huge impact in the flavor of the final result.
That's why most Greeks prefer this salad from late spring to early autumn. The ingredients must be fresh and ripe. The best Greek Salads are made in the summer, when the tomatoes are ripe and juicy and the peppers and the cucumbers add their fresh, wonderful aromas. If you are able to afford some, always prefer ripe organic tomatoes for this salad. Their taste is vastly superior and since they are the main ingredient of the salad, you should consider this.
Also choose real feta, meaning feta made from sheep or sheep & goat milk, the way it's made here in Greece. Any "feta" made with cow's milk, is not really feta. And you need the real thing for this salad! The more mature, the better.
This salad is perfectly combined with fried veggies (like batter-fried zucchini or eggplants), grilled or fried fish and seafood (batter-fried squid -"Kalamari"- pairs amazingly with it), grilled meats and burgers. That's why you will find this salad in every table.
During the summer, many of us have a Greek Salad with fresh baked bread or rusks as a main dish. It's a filling, delicious meal. What we always do, is dunk some bread in the juices of the salad, to soak up all the flavors. The taste is divine!
So let's see how to make the authentic Greek Salad!
- 3 medium sized tomatoes, 700-750gr/24.5-26.5oz
- 1/4 of large cucumber (or 1 small), 130-170gr/4.5-6oz.
- 1 small green bell pepper (or 1/2 a large one), 50-60gr/1.8-2.1oz
- 1 small red onion (or 1/2 a medium sized), 40gr/1.4oz
- 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
- 6-8 Kalamata olives (whole)
- a slice of feta, 100gr/3.5oz
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preparation:Peel and slice the cucumber.Cut the green bell pepper in thin slices.Cut the onion in thin slices.Cut the tomatoes in wedges.
In a medium sized bowl, mix gently the tomatoes, the cucumber and the olives with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and a pinch of salt (pic.1 & 2).
Put the mixture in a serving bowl/dish, and add the slices of the pepper and the onion on top. Add the feta slice on top of that and drizzle with the rest 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Sprinkle with the oregano and serve with fresh baked bread. Kali oreksi!
1. This salad is not suitable for preparing ahead. If you like, you can wash the veggies some time before, but always cut the salad a maximum of 30 minutes before serving. After all, it’s very easy and very quick to prepare.
2. If you use room temperature tomatoes, the flavor is greatly enhanced. If you like them chilled just remove from the fridge 20-30 minutes before cutting the salad and they will still be cool but also much tastier.
3. As mentioned before, use fresh, ripe and preferably organic tomatoes for this recipe. Also use real (sheep) feta. A barrel aged one, if possible.