The Mediterranean diet is considered by all experts to be one of the most “balanced”, while Greek cuisine, with the main protagonists of fresh vegetables and olive oil, is considered to be extremely hygienic. Most traditional Greek dishes, despite the inevitable changes in diet that our modern lifestyle imposes, are still the first choice for us as well as for foreigners coming to Greece.
One of these dishes is the Greek – Horiatiki (village) salad. The low fat, its high nutritional value and the fact that it can be a tasty and complete meal (containing protein, carbohydrates, fiber) together with a little bread give it a first place at our table.
The best time for anyone to enjoy it is the summer. When tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are at the height of their maturity and their juices are tastier than ever before.
What does it usually contain and what does it offer us?
Fresh tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, dried onions, olives, feta and natural olive oil are the main ingredients of the village salad along with salt, oregano and caper, which is common in several Greek islands.
- Tomato: Tomatoes are a very favorite and cool food. A moderate tomato gives about 40 calories and is one of the vegetables that is thought to have an anti-cancer effect due to the lycopene it contains. Lycopene is a progestin A that has proven antioxidant activity.
- Feta: It is one of the first places in Greek cuisine, since it is considered to be “our national cheese, although it has not been registered as a” product of origin designation “(the Danish white cheese claims the same name). The traditional Feta cheese is made from goat or sheep’s milk, though the cow’s milk is also used to make it. Although extremely delicious, it should be consumed in moderation, since it gives enough calories (240 calories per 100 grams) and has increased animal fat and cholesterol. Feta is rich in calcium, has increased moisture in relation to yellow cheeses, which are dehydrated and less fatty.
Tip: If you have a large enough quantity that will not be consumed immediately, store it in brine (salt) or milk and water.
- Olive oil: Definitely the best oil we can trust for our daily diet. It is rich in vitamin E, with potential anti-cancer activity, and limits the effects that other fats may have on the body, if used frequently. Although extremely beneficial, olive oil does not cease to have many calories (a tablespoon gives about 135 calories). On a regular salad for four people 3 tablespoons are enough.
Tip: Prefer the organic olive oil, ie what is produced without chemical or other treatments.
- Olives: Although it is the fruit from which the oil comes, their nutritional value is not the same. Olive is a diet rich in calcium and phosphorus, while it is characteristic that it has three hundred times more vitamin A than sunflower oil. Their caloric value is not negligible: the 5 olives give about 45 calories.
Tip: Olives usually have a lot of salt and can raise the pressure. Prefer to shave them before you eat them or choose olives that have been preserved with salt rather than brine.
- Green pepper: Pepper has fewer calories (a moderate pepper gives 19 calories), but is one of the most vitamin C-rich vegetables and contains many antioxidants. It is self-evident for pepper as well as for all vegetables that are eaten raw, that it should be thoroughly washed before entering the salad.
- Tip: When buying peppers, pay attention to their skin: it should be smooth and have a uniform color.
- Onion: A moderate onion gives 60 calories, belongs to garlic – vegetables known for their antiseptic activity, and several studies in recent years also refer to the protection that our body is likely to have from cancer.
Cucumber: The main ingredient of cucumber is water, which is why it is quite poor in nutritional value compared to other vegetables. But it is eaten very pleasantly in the summer, mainly because of its delicate and fresh taste. A moderate cucumber gives 32 calories, while it contains fat and no cholesterol.
- Tip: Put it on the salad without peeling off, since of course you wash it very well. If the peel is removed, its nutritional value drops to almost zero, as vitamin A, C and fiber are contained there.
How to Make a Traditional Greek Salad
- Clean, wash and drain all vegetables
- Cut tomato in wedges-do not cut in cubes as well as
- Cucumber, garlic, pepper and onion sliced.
- Place tomatoes and cucumbers in a shallow bowl and combine. Place the thinly sliced onion on top. Add olives.
- Finally, drizzle with olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Add some salt to taste.
Place a piece of feta on top and sprinkle entire salad with oregano.
Serve with homemade bread with yeast.
Other salads in Greece and Cyprus
There are many other salads in Greek cuisine. These include: lettuce (marouli) salad with lettuce, onion and dill; shredded fresh cabbage salad (lahanosalata), dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and garlic; beetroot salad (pantzarosalata), boiled and sliced beetroots, sometimes with beet greens as well, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar; arugula (roka) salad, dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar or lemon juice, possibly including anchovies; patatosalata, potato salad with olive oil, finely sliced onions, lemon juice or vinegar; revithosalata, chickpea salad; and maintanouri, parsley salad, usually used as a condiment.