Friday, February 15, 2013

Fresh Mediterranean Inspired Salads

I thought I would share with you these beautiful salads while I'm working putting together a post of our sweet Valentines Day for you.  Hope yours was wonderful, too!
I am loving salads more all the time!  I've been trying new ones at restaurants and come home inspired to experiment with delicious flavors.  I've always naturally loved the light and healthy flavors of Mediterranean food!  Lately I've been making salads inspired by their cuisine a couple times a week, and they're delicious.
  I've always been an olives freak (I can't get enough! I'm always given all the olives in the salad at Olive Garden.  It's just known that I'm the olive eater!)  Of course I love extra virgin olive oil, chickpeas, feta cheese, and get the picture.  Although chickpeas are a more recent love over the past few years, I'll sometimes eat them a few days a week!  I always buy them canned, so I drain and thoroughly rinse the beans to get all the salt water off before adding them to anything.  (Actually I do this with any canned bean or vegetable.)
I've recently discovered that I like very finely diced red onion in these salads.  Mom has always like this, and I love cooked onions but have always picked raw ones off salads. I gave it a try again and this time  I've realized ... a little red onion is amazing in Greek salads!!!  Put them right in your homemade Greek vinaigrette dressing for a slightly milder taste that still adds that sweet heat undertone.
I think I was spurred on when I went to Gloria's World Village Cafe (in Murray, Ky.) with my Mom and sister and ordered the gyro salad.  It came with tzaziki sauce as the dressing, and of course had all of the other fresh Greek ingredients.  We all ordered this with delicious falafal and loved this salad so much!  I was inspired to use tzatziki for my salad dressing and that's what I'm doing now.  It's really fresh tasting and has little-to-no fat and higher protein from the Greek yogurt that's in it.  How's that for a salad dressing!?
I'm sharing with you a couple of my new favorite Mediteranean inspired salads.  This first one is more of a classic Greek salad with store bought tzatziki dressing, although I make an easy homemade Greek vinaigrette that's absolutely divine with it, too!  I'll give you the ingredients for that, as well.  If eaten by themselves (as I often do for lunch) either salad would be delicious with warm pita bread on the side!
Classic Greek Salad
Romaine Lettuce
Kalamata Olives, or any kind
Red Onion, finely diced or slivered
Cucumber, diced
Grape Tomatoes
Crumbled Feta Cheese (Trader Joes has herbed kind that's delish)
Tzatziki Sauce
Salt & Pepper
If you don't use the tzatziki sauce for dressing, please try out my...
Homemade Greek Vinegarette:
2 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 part Red Wine Vinegar
Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
Dijon Mustard, enough to make a little creamy
Pinch of Dried Oregano
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
(Finely minced shallots would make it perfect!)
Add all of this to a Mason jar with a lid and shake, shake, shake it up!!!
This is dressing absolutely delicious on salads.
The other favorite new salad is....
Creamy Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Graped Tomatoes, halved
English Cucumber, chopped
Red Onion, finely chopped
Fresh Basil
Tzatziki Sauce
Lemon wedge
Sea Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper
In a medium bowl, mix tzatziki dressing, juice of the lemon wedge, basil, onion, salt and pepper.
Stir until blended together and set aside.
Add the the cucumber and tomato to the same bowl and mix together so the dressing is saturating the vegetables.
This creamy cucumber & tomato salad is wonderful!!  I make it in single servings for my lunch at home, and that's my whole meal,  It would be wonderful served as a side dish in the summertime with whatever you have on the grill!  I want to try it with some feta cheese, too. Be sure and store in in the fridge if you're not eating it right away. 
Linking up at these friend's parties:

1 comment:

Jen said...

I also love to create different salads. Chickpeas are so yummy and good for you too. The thinly sliced red onions give such a great taste also. I mainly have been using spinach and into putting dried cranberries with finely shredded Parm. There are just so MANY ways to create a good salad. It is making me super hungry for one now. Your salad sounds divine and so beautiful, Leslie.