Thomas and I went to Greece the summer after we got married about five years ago now. The weather was extremely hot in the Cyclades at the end of July and into early August, the water was warm and refreshing the white stucco architecture tightly nestled atop dramatic cliffs which plunged right into the ocean were breath taking and with ancient archeological finds and quaint old orthodox churches scattered everywhere even in the most remote locations there was plenty to keep us in awe, but the food we had, I have to say, was simply outstanding. This group of islands to the south of mainland Greece where we were staying hosts an almost desert like climate but the locals were successfully growing in their backyards their own tomatoes, cucumbers and some even had small vinyards for making and selling their own wines and fresh herbs were growing in abundance in window planters everywhere we looked. Most of the food we had was locally sourced and vegetarian and sometimes included freshly caught local fish. The dish that stands out in my mind though is the salad that we ate almost every day for lunch and some times twice a day and looked something like this.
Every restaurant that we went to had their own version of this traditional Greek salad but it would almost always include fresh cucumber and tomato, feta cheese, olive oil and fresh herbs.
This salad was cheap and filling and with a side of crusty artisan bread was a meal in itself.
Some variations that we had while we were there included the addition of sliced red onions and/or Kalamata olives.
Fresh thyme was almost always used but sometimes other herbs were added into the mix as well and dried thyme works wonderfully on this salad too.
Olive oil, salt and pepper are the only seasonings to this salad so choose a quality olive oil that is not to strong and has good flavor.
We made this salad often after we returned from our vacation to the Greecian islands and found that it was so simple and delicious that with a bite it was able to transport us right back to our days of sand and sun. For some reason I had forgotten about this salad for a while, the winter months will do that to you!, and only just recently had a craving for it again. Now that tomatoes are in season I highly recommend making this salad right away. And be sure to visualize yourself on an island in Greece as you are eating it!
Per Person You Will Need:
- 1/2 Cucumber
- 1 regular or 4 small Tomatoes
- 1/3 of a brick of Feta Cheese
- Fresh Thyme
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Kalamata Olives *optional
- Red Onion *optional
Cut the cucumber in half and then into slices. Put in the bowl and season with some salt. Then add a layer of thickly cut tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Top with slices of feta cheese and drizzle with olive oil. Garnish with fresh thyme, olives* and onions* if using. Enjoy!