Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Favorite Greek Vegetable Salad Recipe


This is my favorite greek salad recipe. It's my favorite because it's the freshest tasting salad and the dressing is packed with flavor. I was first introduced to this recipe over 10 years ago from my good friend Ann, so I've titled it Ann's Greek Vegetable Salad. We were at one of our Gourmet Club dinners. Christa and Tom were the hosts and their dinner theme was Greek….the most perfect theme for Christa because I seriously think in her past life she was born and raised in Greece. The menu was amazing, it was so long ago but I remember Tracy made spanakopita, Christa made greek stuffed peppers, I made greek potatoes and Ann made her amazing greek salad. I took a few bites of Ann's salad and wanted to shout "opa" it was so greekalicious! I asked Ann what kind of dressing she used on the salad and she said olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, dried oregano and salt n pepper. I half didn't believe her because I didn't think those few ingredients would taste so incredibly flavorful. Her greek salad recipe called for crumbled feta cheese but she didn't add it to the salad because we wasn't sure if everyone would like feta. So she had the feta on the side as well as fresh mozzarella. I love feta so it was a no brainier to add it to my salad. I thought fresh mozzarella isn't exactly greek but I also love fresh mozzarella so I tried it and was surprised that it was equally as good in this salad. So when I make this recipe I will use either or. I remember loving the entire meal so much that I made the exact dinner for Dave's parents a few weeks later. Ann's greek salad recipe really stood out for me during our greek themed Gourmet Dinner Club. So much so that 10 plus years later I still make this salad all of the time especially during the spring and summer months. Talk about a lasting food impression, right. It's goes so well with any type of meat or seafood. Tonight I made panko breaded chicken cutlets topped with arugula; the greek salad wad the perfect side. After Dave took a few bites I asked him what he thought and he said "spring." I laughed because as I mentioned that's the time of year I always start making this recipe. The meal tasted spectacular but it would have been nice if we had a shot of ouzo to go with it! Salute to Ann's greek vegetable salad that makes me shout "Opa!"


Ann's Greek Vegetable Salad (Click to print recipe)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
  • 1 english cucumber sliced and halved
  • 2 green, red, or orange peppers, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved optional
  • 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 2 tb capers
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1/8 t black pepper
In a large bowl add all of the cut vegetables. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, oregano and salt n pepper until well blended. Add the vinaigrette to the vegetables and stir until they are well coated. Place the salad on a decorative platter or bowl and serve. Refrigerate in a tupperware container for 1-2 days. 

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Ooooh, I get my own bowl of salad." Yes, Nate got his own bowl because he won't eat anything with onions so I made his without onions! 

Tyler: "This is delicious and so fresh." 

Zachary: "You haven't made this in so long." He had three helpings!

Dave: "Tastes like Spring!" He kept eating at the salad with his fingers before I even had it on the table. I kept telling him to stop but he couldn't help himself I guess.

Andrea: I totally forgot to add the capers!!!! I am shocked dave didn't say anything because he LOVES capers. I didn't realize until I was washing he dishes. While the salad was still amazing without the capers, they are necessary…so don't forget them!
Nate and Tyler toasting with the welcome drinks in Punta Cana,
Poor Zachary wasn't in the mood for any
Now onto more "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" drama but today's vacation title was "Zachary leaves his mark." (Faint stomachs don't read) 
So I ended my post yesterday with us heading to the Cleveland Airport, hoping we would make our three flights to Punta Cana despite the incredibly tight layover times. Dave stated that if any of our flights were delayed we wouldn't make the next flight, so we all crossed our fingers and said a prayer. We went to the American Airlines cheek-in, handed the agent our tickets hoping there wouldn't be any delays. The agent stated that our flight was being delayed by 40 minutes! I started to panic a bit and Dave told me to just leave the area so he could handle things alone. All the while Zachary kept saying his stomach hurt. I could hardly focus on his stomach ache and told him he just didn't eat enough at breakfast and he was probably just hungry. I couldn't stand waiting any longer wondering what was taking Dave so long so I went over to the counter. Dave said this wonderful agent is putting us on a different flight but it leaves in 20 minutes so we have to move fast. I was super happy and ran over to the boys to tell them to gather their things and move fast. Zachary continued to tell me his stomach hurt so I told him we'd order food on the plane. He told me that he needed a bathroom; well he didn't make the bathroom and made his first, let's call it "mark"in the airport. Sorry I know this is a food blog! I felt awful for Zachary but I was like honey, here's a tissue, wipe yourself up and we gotta run to our flight. He was a champ and did. A nasty bug was going around the boys school and Tyler had it a few days prior. I was hoping Zach or Nate didn't get what Tyler had but my hoping wasn't good enough. Zach was likely getting what Tyler had. Not a good thing especially when we had to take three planes in one day. We made it to Charlotte and had about an hour in a half until our next flight to Miami. Sure enough Zachary made his "mark" again but in the Charlotte airport…he didn't make it to a bathroom fast enough. We kept telling him he was a champ and pretty soon we'd be in Punta Cana. He had no other symptoms so we weren't too worried. We get on our next flight, luckily no delays and flew to the Miami Airport. Our layover was another hour and a half or so. It's a big airport so we had to jump on a train to take us to the next terminal. Zachary proceeds to tell us his stomach didn't feel quite right, there wasn't a bathroom close enough so yep, Zach made his mark once again! Poor Zachary, but poor cleaning crew. He made his mark once more in the Miami airport and we hopped on our plane…the last one before Punta Cana. Zach still had no other symptoms other than not eating anything all day. He could barely keep down the Gatorade we kept giving him and the anti-nasua medicine didn't do a thing. I kept thinking just one more flight and we are there, Zachary can rest and hopefully tomorrow he'll be building sandcastles, throwing a football with Dave and fighting the waves in the ocean. After 14 hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Punta Cana at 10:00 pm. We were all sooooo excited, even Zachary was. He was as white as a ghost though, poor thing. He seemed okay though. Since it was so late at night the airport wasn't busy so getting through immigrations wasn't too bad. When it was our turn to show passports, hand in our paperwork and pay our fees, Zachary makes his mark once again, in the immigrations line. I was thinking they aren't going to let us through! We decided not to tell any official and we pretended it didn't even happen, luckily it just kinda blended in with the floor color….ewww…sorry Punta Cana cleaning people. We made it through and headed to our charter bus to take us to the hotel. He made another mark in the parking lot. We FINALLY get to the Royalton Punta Cana Resort to check in. We were exhausted and simply just shot. They greeted us with fruity cocktails and poor Zachary didn't have any desire to even take a tiny sip. We couldn't wait to just get to our rooms. I booked adjoining/connecting rooms months ago and even called and emailed the resort confirming we would be honored our connecting rooms. All along the resort confirmed we had connecting rooms. Low and behold, Sarge, our receptionist states there are no connecting rooms available and he had 1 room available on the 3rd floor and the other was available on the 1st floor. Dave was going to LOOSE his mind. He asked to speak with a manager and sure enough there was no manager available. I started to tell them that it was imperative that we had connecting rooms due to medical issues and that our son was very ill. After about 20 minutes of Dave's persuasive abilities, they were able to put us in our connecting rooms on Tuesday. They also found rooms across from each other for Sunday and Monday. Still not ideal but we agreed, we were just wiped out. As we were waiting for our room keys in the lobby, Zach stated he needed a bathroom. You guessed it, he didn't make it and he made his mark in the lobby. I just looked at Sarge with my very stern italian facial expression and said in my very italian voice: I told you we had medical issues, this is why we need our connecting rooms!!! I think Sarge was afraid of me! We got to our rooms about 12:30 am and since it was an all inclusive resort we called room service and ordered lots of food and beer. I'm not even a beer drinker but it tasted darn good. We were all very tired so we all said goodnight and Dave and Zachary went to their room across the hall. Dave and I looked at each other like I can't believe we are in separate rooms, no 25 days of Christmas!!!! We all hoped that the next day would be better once we all got a good night's sleep. Not so much….chapter 3 tomorrow.

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