Greek Salad: What Makes It Special?

Greek salad, or 'horiatiki salata' in Greek, is a rough country salad of juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber, sliced red onion, green pepper, crumbly feta cheese and plump kalamata olives. Greek salad can be served as a side dish or as a light meal with some crusty bread (or rusks). Greek salad is the “must” summer meal as it is a light meal with low calories. There are 106 calories in a cup of Greek salad  (61% fat, 13% carbs and 25% protein). What you should be carefull, thought, is the consumption of feta cheese. While an incredibly tasty cheese, there are 75 calories in 1 ounce of Feta Cheese.

Trying to find more information about the history of the Greek salad, I came up with just assumptions. Nobody realy knows the exact time the Greek salad was “invented”. What we do know is that tomato came to Greece in 1818, so it is after that time that greek people began to eat it. Additionally, it is known that until 1821 ( when the greek revolution took place), people used to eat their vegetables seperately and without cutting them. They were consuming tomatoes, onions and cucumbers as we consume fruits nowdays. There is a testimony that in 1909 an economic migrant, coming from USA started to chop and combine the vegetables. As a conclusion, we could assume that the Greek salad was first “introduced” at the beggining of the 20th century

In terms of nutritional value, it is known to be very high. The tomato-that is its main ingredient, is a vegetable very rich in vitamin C. Tomato is also an antioxidant vitamin and contains other antioxidants such as beta carotene and lycopene. Combining the nutritional value of the other vegetables, such as onions or peppers, the nutritional content of the dish is increased , especially in vitamins and antioxidants. Last but not least, we should refer to the Greek olive oil, which is used as the dressing for the Greek salad. Greece is one of the top three olive oil producing countries, and Greek olive oil is some of the finest (if not THE finest) in the world. The health benefits of olive oil have been recognised by many ancient physicians like Hippocrates, Galen, Dioscorides, and Diocles. In recent years, modern doctors and nutritionists have realised that extra virgin olive oil, particularly, that contributes significant nutritional value to human health.

Having read all the above, I presume you're getting a bit hungry. What best to try - so, here is the receipe for a traditional greek salad...

  • 3 medium tomatoes sliced or chopped into a bite-size pieces
  • 1 -2 small cucumbers, peeled or not, but sliced into thick half-rounds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into thin slivers
  • 20 Kalamata (black) olives (or as many as you want)
  • 200 -300 gr. of feta cheese at least, crumbled
  • Salt
  • 1/3 cup of Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano

** Optional

  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • vinegar

Our proposal is for you to try to find as many "real" Greek ingredients as you can. You will know the difference when you taste it all..