The Months of Greek Salad Begin Around This Menu Monday

July 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

Rob Gardner

I had two big salads yesterday; the rather mediocre namesake salad at Santorini (which I will write about sometime soon) and a bread salad or panzanella last night for dinner.  It was my second bread salad in recent days and maybe the third time we made the classic combination of tomatoes and cucumbers.  A salad with cucumbers and tomatoes is not just Greek.  I mean not that long ago, my wife and I had a surprisingly good version at a Czech place, the dish called sopska salad (it was the feta like cheese that made the dish), and when we use stale bread we always call it panzenella.  Still, for cataloguing purposes, it is Greek Salad.

I’ve already mentioned the key ingredients of Greek salad, tomatoes and cucumbers.  Last week I purchased my first cucumbers on my field trip to Muncie.  Then, a day later a host of cucumbers showed up in my CSA box.  Greenhouse tomatoes, expensive and not very good if you ask me, have been at the Oak Park Farmer’s Market since day one.  I start buying tomatoes when the, at least grown in ground, hoop-house tomatoes arrive, which was not last week but the week before.  I don’t have to tell you that there will be much better tomatoes soon, but for the time being, these scratch the Greek salad itch.

A Greek salad needs no more than tomatoes and cucumbers, but it can be endlessly tweaked to good end.  Like I say, I like to add stale bread.  The bread, if nothing else, serves to sop up the ample juices from the other stuff.  I like peppers very much.  As with the cukes, I found skinny banana peppers first in Muncie and then a few days later at Farmer Vicki’s Genesis Growers.  Even better, Genesis had serrano peppers freakishly early, and I swooped in to buy.  Beyond those ingredients, I almost always have to have some herbs.  I still have some Thai style basil from a few weeks ago, and I have a large bunch of basil from Muncie.  I have mint from last week’s market that is always worth adding too.  Rocket if you have it, for some pepper back-bite.  I rarely eat raw onions, but with this salad, I’ll use a smidgen of scallion or better, some summer sweet onions.  I can eat this salad constantly.  Or chop it finer and call it a relish or salsa for grilled foods.   The months of Greek salads have begun.

If I never tire of Greek salad, I tired of broccoli weeks ago, yet a lot of it showed up once again in my CSA box.  What I (and my kids) really want to do with it is make a cheesey Kentucky style casserole, but my wife is putting her foot down on that one (and it’s not like my waistline can support that one either).  The CSA box also came with collard greens and lettuce, two other things I like but am not hankering to use at this point.  On the other hand, I am filled with ideas for the big bag of green beans, the season’s first.  About 2/3rds of these beans will go into some type of braised dish.  The rest will be boiled for a cold salad.

Getting back to swooping in, I swooped on serranos, which I really could have sauntered in on, but the few white peaches and apricots that were at the Oak Park Market on Saturday, well as a Twitter friend noted, you schmooze, you lose, and by the time I got done catching up on some gossip from Doreen Nichols, this summer fruit was sold.  I was not, however, at a lost with fruit to buy.  There were cherries in two colors, and blueberries so plentiful they were offering deals, and small boxes of tayberries and big boxes of raspberries.   The last of the strawberries were there and I did not skip on those either.  And last, I got about the last of the asparagus.

Believe you me both, there’s plenty more in the Bungalow.  I’ll try to get to it.  In between Greek Salads.


One Comment

  1. Melissa says:

    Mmmmmm, I love these salads in the summer. I had a Greek salad last week from the current Clean Eating magazine. Besides the tomatoes and cucumbers, it had chickpeas, feta, and pita chips in it. Delicious and so pretty. The picture of it in the magazine is actually what made me buy it.

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