This Greek Salad Recipe was originally designed to accompany my Homemade Gyro Meat, with a Greek Yogurt Sauce, to make The Ultimate Gyro Sandwich. Yet it is so good, it can be a side dish or made into a salad for a Mediterranean Beer Cuisine feast!
Greek Salad is sometimes called horiatiki salad on Greek restaurant menus. A key to this simple salad is using the freshest and ripest vegetables, to great a wonderful harmony when mixed with the Greek vinaigrette. Vine ripe or homegrown tomatoes are a big part of this salad. I suggest using Heirloom tomatoes, for their vibrant colors, ranging from stripes, marbled and borderline psychedelic. Their flavor also varies with each variety. If Heirloom tomatoes aren’t available, try using cherry, pear or grape tomatoes, that are usually bursting with flavor. Or if options are limited, a Roma tomato is your best bet, as this variety has to be vine-ripened, as it will not turn red otherwise.
Fennel isn’t always added to this style salad, yet I love the extra-textual element it adds, with the light anise flavor, when mixed with the tomatoes, cucumbers, and tossed in its dressing. Cucumbers are usually the big fresh crunch that snaps in each bite, yet I wanted that extra ingredient, that compliments the Mediterranean flavors associated with this recipe. There are lots of varieties of cucumbers that can work in this salad. I suggest the hothouse cucumber or English cucumber as the seeds are smaller, with more flesh. Yet, if your farmers market has Salt & Pepper or lemon cucumbers, get them!
Onions are another key component in making a Greek Salad Recipe. Red onions are the preferred onion, added for their color and health benefits. As with any vegetable that has a red pigment, it will have an increased amount of antioxidants, help control blood sugars and anti-bacterial properties. I suggest slicing them thin in this salad, to add crunch and a pop of flavor. You could also improvise and substitute fresh red onions for Malt Pickled Red Onions.
When cooking with beer and beer pairing, I take a hard look at flavors that are ingredients in both the food and beer. I also go a step further, looking at common off-flavors found in beer that when one is judging beer, you don’t what to find in your pint. Green olive falls in this group of off-flavors found in some brews. With ‘Esters’ and ‘acetobacter’, these aromas or flavor can be amplified if your Greek Salad Recipe uses olives and especially if green olives are used. Kalamata olives are an option (in this recipe I say it’s an optional ingredient), as they are a richer, more oily olive, that is milder in flavor, than other varieties. With this ingredient being cured, the briny and salty flavors can come across as acetic acid. Just something to consider.
Feta cheese is another ingredient I originally left out, as this recipe was destined to be a component in a gyro sandwich. If this salad is used as a side dish or made into a main course, add this delicious, salty, while still being creamy cheese, usually made from sheep’s milk.
Using beer in the vinaigrette | dressing can open up lots of different flavor expressions. With an American IPA, English Extra Special | Strong Bitter (ESB), or Bohemian Pilsener the flavors can range from more dominant citrus notes replaces the traditional lemon juice when making the dressing | vinaigrette with an IPA. Where using an ESB can enhance the herbal or lightly hopped essence from the Nobel hops used in this beer style. A Pilsner has a light hop aroma and flavor, with less bitterness, that can be adjusted to your liking with more or fewer herbs like tarragon, parsley, or oregano.
This Greek Salad Recipe can be modified, using more greens like baby spinach, mixed greens, arugula, watercress, little gems, or oak leaf lettuces. You could switch this recipe out for a Middle Eastern Cucumber Salad too.
Serves: 8 guests as a side salad or 4 and an entrée
Makes: 4 Ultimate Gyro Sandwiches