Saturday, July 18, 2015

Greek Salad Supper

Greek Salad - fresh, firm tomatoes, sweet crunchy cucumbers, tangy feta cheese, and puckery olives. The best ones taste so fresh, with crisp vegetables still vibrant with an inherent sweetness "from the vine" and tossed with a vinaigrette just before you eat it so that the vegetables are truly just dressed as opposed to saturated.  One of our memorable family adventures entailed driving from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands to Amman, Jordan, a journey of 2 1/2 weeks and a wonderful way to show our children Europe, so we thought. Several years later, they say it's still too soon to ask but they realize that it should have been an adventure of a lifetime: however, Europe was particularly hot that summer, seven of us shared space in a car that comfortably seats five, everyone was allowed only 2 changes of clothing for the entire trip.....and by the time we made it to Greece, they were just looking for a McDonald's. An iconic picture we have of them sitting in the shadows of the Parthenon, shows them with their chins in their hands, wondering if they were having fun yet.  Eating time seemed to liven them up and the greek salad served alongside gyro and souvlaki helped bring them around.  We discovered the best way to make the decision as to "what's for dinner" while traveling was to assign each family member a day to choose the restaurant or cafe where we would eat, which made everyone happy except for our son who ate only plain rice, (which was a no-go if a garnish of parsley had been added) or pizza with no lumps in the sauce.  Greek Salad did nothing for him (no vegetable passed his lips until he was 18) and it's a miracle he survived that trip.  This recipe takes the basic Greek Salad to new heights resulting in a complete "supper" that is ridiculously abundant and succulent with beautiful colors. Anything and everything that happily teams with the basic salad ingredients is included and is my husband's favorite dinner.  The potato salad is lean, cleanly uncomplicated and enhanced with grilled shrimp (careful on the grill - 2 minutes per side usually does it) This is a beautiful and impressive dish to take to a BBQ dinner, so fresh and light - and doesn't require a 2-week car trip to Greece!

Greek Salad Supper
5 red potatoes
2 tab. each minced parsley and green onion
2 tab. olive oil
1 tab. red wine vinegar
salt and freshly group pepper to taste
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 - 10 iceberg lettuce leaves to line serving platter
2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges or 12 - 14 small tomatoes left 
        whole or cut in half
1 avocado, halved, peeled and sliced
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch spears
1 large green pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2 inch spears
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/4 pound cheese, cheddar, provolone, or jack, cut into 1/2 inch 
         by 3 inch lengths
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut in wedges
1/4 pound ham, cut into 1/2 inch by 3 inch lengths
fresh lemon wedges
1/2 pound medium raw shrimp, (fresh or frozen)
      peeled and deveined,  marinated in olive oil, garlic 
      and lemon juice for 30 minutes, and then grilled, 
      2 minutes on each side.

-Cook, peel and dice potatoes and while still warm, toss with parsley, green onion, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper: stir in mayonnaise.  Chill until ready to serve.

-Arrange lettuce leaves on large platter.  Mound potatoes in the center, arrange tomato wedges, cucumber, green pepper, onion, ham, cheese, avocado, eggs and black olives on the lettuce bed around potato salad.  Arrange grilled shrimp on top of potato salad and garnish with a dash of paprika. Chill salad until ready to serve.  Serve with dressing and lemon wedges.  Makes 6 servings.

Vinaigrette Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper

-Combine ingredients and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Serve alongside salad.

Persnickety P.S.:
     **A loaf of crunchy country type bread goes nicely with the salad.
     **Lemon juice may be substituted for the vinegar in the salad dressing - more Greek in nature 
         - but more tart than vinegar.  If using lemon juice start with 3 tablespoons, then dip in a piece
         of lettuce, taste and add more lemon juice if desired.

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