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Paximadia Greek Salad & more...
Tomatoes with barley rusks, feta, and marinated sardines or anchovies are an ideal summer meal. Also SCROLL down for exciting news!
The traditional ‘horiatiki,’ the farmers’ summer lunch consumed in the fields, has become ‘Greek Salad.’
The term horiatiki —meaning ‘from the village’ or ‘peasant’— today evokes authentic good-quality foods. But when the salad was first introduced to Athenian taverns around the 1960ies or early ‘70ies, horiatiko or horiatiki was mostly a derogatory term used for people’s behavior and for women’s unfashionable dresses. Greece was desperately trying to shed its agricultural past and become urban and European in those days, so it is bizarre that a dish with that name came to be so incredibly popular.
ventually the delicious summer salad/lunch became ‘Greek Salad’ and conquered the world, but on the way it lost paximadia, the barley rusks or pieces of leftover bread, that made it a substantial meal for the working farmers.
Now vine-ripened tomatoes are the main ingredient, complemented with onions and all kinds of garden vegetables and greens –cucumber, purslane, capers, and often sprigs of pickled kritama (rock-samphire) which is my favorite.
I was very surprised to find rock-samphire, the pleasantly salty, elusively fragrant plant we forage from the shores all around the Aegean, growing on the cliffs of southern Ireland where it is used to flavor a very interesting gin!
More on my wonderful Ireland visit later…
Adding a few canned or home-marinated anchovies or sardines the salad becomes an ideal summer lunch or even dinner.
Serves 6 to 8
4 cups paximadia (barley rusks) in bite-size pieces (or stale, toasted, good quality multi-grain bread)
2 pounds summer ripe and firm tomatoes that have not been refrigerated (big or small, any color or a combination of different heirloom tomatoes)
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup purslane leaves or rock-samphire (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped tender arugula, flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of parsley and fresh oregano or thyme
2 1/2 cups diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon dry Greek oregano
1/2 cup fruity good olive oil, or more
1-2 pickled chilies, minced (optional)
Zest of 1 non-treated lemon (optional)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
A few marinated sardines or anchovies (optional)
Arrange the paximadia or toasted bread in a large salad bowl or container. Using a serrated knife, slice the tomatoes into roughly 1 1/2–inch pieces and scatter them over the paximadia, letting the juices penetrate the bread. Arrange the onion rings and purslane (if using) over the tomatoes, sprinkle the capers and other herbs, over the onions. Top with the feta and sprinkle with the oregano.
In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil with the chilies and lemon zest (if using), along with a few cracks of black pepper and some salt — keeping in mind that capers and feta are quite salty so you may not need extra.
Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let stand for one hour in a cool place. If you won’t serve it within the hour and the weather is hot, let the salad rest in the refrigerator.
Toss thoroughly just before serving, adding the anchovies or sardines, if using.
I couldn’t be more proud and happy that the Zaytinya Cookbook is coming soon!
In his Monday announcement at Longer Tables Newsletter José writes:
“There are so many people who helped make this restaurant and this book. As I have shared before, so much of the soul of Zaytinya comes from our dear partner and friend Aglaia Kremezi, who I met over two decades ago when I took a trip to Kea, the beautiful island in the Aegean Sea where she lives. She has been part of our story from day one and still is. And this book could not have been written without our Concept Chef Michael Costa, who has been with us for 13 years, and who not only travels through Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon, but also makes visits to Aglaia’s cooking school to work on recipes with her. Also, our amazing friend and photographer Thomas Schauer, and so many more friends and team members! THANK YOU! "
“Unlike walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts and pecans, pistachios are technically not tree nuts. They are the seed of a pinkish fruit that grows in bunches, ”
we read in a fascinating piece in ARAMCO that traces the grafting history which led to our favorite nut.
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