recipe: a Mediterranean summer salad

I may have just spent 10 days indulging in plates of Greek deliciousness but I can assure you that I have been feeding my mild feta addiction for quite some time! On a relaxed summer’s day a tasty salad is a perfect way to satiate your afternoon or evening hunger and this salad packs a big punch with only a little effort.

It might look like there are a lot of ingredients but this is quick recipe which only needs a bit of rough chopping so please don’t be put off. The 10 minutes of effort will be worth it.

This recipe includes a heap of sumac, a Mediterranean / Middle eastern spice full of a tangy sourness and hints of lemon. It  was always sprinkled generously into the salads served up by the Turkish restaurants I frequented when I first lived in North London. Despite its ruby colouring it is not ‘spicy’ so please don’t be concerned about heat. Sumac is now relatively freely available in large supermarkets and specialist spice shops and it can be used to liven up most salads, roasted vegetables and in marinades for lamb, chicken and halloumi.

Ingredients, serves 2-4 depending on your hunger level

  • 150g Feta
  • 150-200g cherry tomatoes (preferably on the vine), chopped in half
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 16-20 black olives (we love kalamata olives), pitted and halved
  • 2 spring onions, chopped roughly
  • 1 chilli, finely sliced with seeds removed
  • 1.5 tbsp sumac
  • 1.5 tbsp of good quality extra virgin olive oil (we favour peppery, green Spanish & Greek oil)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/5 tbsp of fresh oregano, roughly chopped
  • Pitta breads, optional

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Large bowl 
  • Teaspoon

Steps
1. Prepare the vegetables as set out above and place in a large bowl.

2. Halve the cucumber. Remove the seeds with a teaspoon then roughly chop into bite sized pieces.        (Removing the seeds takes away the watery part of the cucumber which can make this salad soggy; this is particularly useful if you plan to make the salad in advance or for tomorrow’s lunch!)

3. Crumble the feta between your fingers so that you get a mixture of large chunks and small pieces. This gives the salad a more pleasant texture compared to feta that has been cut.

4. Add the chilli, sumac and freshly chopped herbs.

5. Drizzle the olive oil over the entire salad (go crazy with more oil if you feel the urge.)

6. When you are ready to serve, squeeze the lemon juice over the salad and mix well. (To save any seeds from getting into the salad, hold the lemon over your cupped hand over the salad bowl. Open the fingers of your cupped hand ever so slightly and you should catch the seeds before they fall into the bowl.)

7. Serve with warmed pitta breads and dig in!

Tip: if you want something a little more substantial, add 250g of cooked green lentils or a charcoal grilled chicken breast marinated in lemon and oregano.

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