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;everyone here knows how to make it. That's why there is no meaning in publishing this recipe in Greek as we do with all our recipes.
This salad is really simple and 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 the way we make them here. We noticed that every salad that contains feta cheese and/or olives may be labeled as a "Greek Salad" abroad.
Well, of course one can create or "adjust" a salad according to the flavors one prefers. And that's great, as we often do the same. In this post however, we want to share with you the authentic recipe for the Greek Salad, the one that everyone uses here in Greece.
If you visit Greece and order a Greek Salad (or if you're served one in occasions like backyard parties etc) they will serve you 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 are sharing here, is the classic, traditional and authentic recipe used in 99% of all cases.
The authentic Horiatiki Greek Salad is a very specific salad, with very specific ingredients. Those are:
- Tomatoes (not cherry tomatoes;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 any authentic Horiatiki Greek Salad you'll be served throughout Greece.
There are only TWO (2) optional ingredients in addition to the ones above:
- Caper seeds (added mostly in Horiatiki salads that are served in Greek islands)
- Red wine vinegar (some people also like to add some extra acidity in their salad)
Since this is a very simple salad, the quality of the ingredients has a huge impact in flavor and will determine the final result.
That's why most Greeks prefer making this salad only from late spring to early autumn as the ingredients must be fresh, ripe and in season. The best Greek Salads are made during the summer, when the tomatoes are really ripe and juicy and the peppers and the cucumbers add their freshness and their wonderful aromas. If affordable, always prefer ripe organic tomatoes for this salad. Organic tomatoes have a vastly superior taste and since they are the main ingredient of this salad, you should really consider buying some.
Also choose real feta for this salad, meaning feta made from sheep or sheep & goat's 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 feta, the better it tastes when combined with tomatoes.
This salad is perfect with fried veggies (like batter-fried zucchini or eggplants), grilled or fried fish and seafood (batter-fried squid -"Kalamari"- is amazing with this salad!) and grilled meats or burgers. We LOVE serving this salad when we make Greek zucchini fritters; it's also fantastic if you're having Greek burgers (called biftekia).
During the summer, many of us often have a Greek Salad as main dish, with some fresh baked bread or rusks on the side. It's a filling and delicious meal on its own. What we always do here in Greece, is dunking some of the bread in the juices of the salad, to soak up all the flavors. The taste of this is divine! You MUST try it at least once in your life, with some good artisan-style bread.
So let's see how to make the authentic Greek Salad: Horiatiki!
- 3 medium sized tomatoes, 700-750g / 24.5-26.5oz
- 1/4 of large cucumber (or 1 whole small), 130-170g / 4.5-6oz
- 1 small green bell pepper (or 1/2 a large one), 50-60g / 1.8-2.2oz
- 1 small red onion (or 1/2 medium sized), 40g / 1.5oz
- 1/2 tablespoon dry oregano
- 6-8 Kalamata olives (whole)
- a big slice of feta, 100g / 3.5oz
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Preparation:Peel and slice the cucumber. Cut the green bell pepper and 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 pepper and onion slices on top. Add the feta slice on top of everything 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 a make ahead one. If you like, you can wash the veggies some time before, but always cut them and prepare the salad right before serving. After all, it’s very easy and very quick to prepare. Do not let it stay for more then 30 minutes before serving it.
2. If the tomatoes are in room temperature, their flavor is enhanced. If you like them chilled, just remove them 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.
4. If you like Greek salad, you can also try out an easy puff pastry pizza with the same flavors. It's a quick pizza we love to make often for ourselves.