Keepin' It Cool with Salads

Unlimited innovations are possible on the Greek Cucumber and Yogurt Salad known as tzatziki but this is one classic Cafe Drake HRV likes to keep simple and pure. If using as a salad dressing or sauce for falafel consider thinning a wee bit with water and lemon juice. All you have to do is add to a mixing bowl 2 cups plain yogurt - Greek preferred, non-fat unacceptable, don't! - along with 1/2 t. salt, some black pepper, about 3 t. minced garlic, some fresh or dried dill and 1/4 cup chopped mint leaves. Stir all together and set aside while you peel and seed 2 cucumbers. Finely dice the cucumbers and press in a separate bowl to extract as much liquid as possible. You can also do this with a dish towel or if you have the time, in a sieve, for around 30 minutes. Combine drained cucumbers with seasoned yogurt and savor. Will keep for a few days refrigerated but stir well each time you serve.

Once you've done a bit of veg prep and chopping, Cafe Drake HRV's Bulgarian Salad comes together in a couple of minutes.

Got your trusty large mixing bowl out? Good. Now add to it 4 chopped, perfectly ripe tomatoes, 1/2 a red onion (thinly sliced), 1 small red bell pepper (cut into very thin strips), one seeded and chopped cucumber (skin left on if not waxed), 3 t. chopped oregano leaves (or less if dried), a small handful of chopped mint leaves, 1 cup of fat Greek olives (pitted and torn into pieces as seen above), 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar, 1/2 lb. of crumbled feta cheese (use the Bulgarian kind, of course. or whatever you can find, French, Greek, Domestic), loads of freshly ground black pepper and 1 minced clove of garlic. Salt won't be necessary most likely so taste before adding. Just mix it all up and, like most things, the salad improves if left to sit an hour or so before serving. Enjoy leftovers within two days.

Our Bulgarian Salad is substantial enough to carry its weight as a lunch entree or light supper, especially when served with a loaf of good bread and olive oil for dipping. An assertive edginess from the olives and feta will overwhelm more subtle flavors, so if pairing with other dishes for an elaborate meal select those able to stand up to the salad; roasted or grilled game or spicy sausages for example.


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