Delicious Summer Salads with Bold, Greek Flavors

The National Herald

Orzo with feta. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

Summer is the best time of year to enjoy fresh salads when the tomatoes and so many other summer produce favorites are at the peak of their flavor. Try the following salads for a delicious summer meal or side dish.

Greek Orzo Salad

2 cups cooked orzo

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 cup sliced cucumbers

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Baby spinach leaves

In a large bowl, combine the orzo with the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, onions, feta, and mint. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Let stand 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve over spinach leaves for a vegetarian entree, or top with grilled chicken. Any leftover orzo salad keeps well refrigerated for up to 2 days.

To cook the orzo: Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add a pinch of salt and add 1 cup uncooked orzo, stir, and allow to cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. One cup uncooked orzo yields about 2 cups cooked. If preferred, vegetable stock can be substituted for the water.

Baked Vegetable Salad with Feta

2 bunches broccolini, ends trimmed, or broccoli, stalks trimmed, and cut into bite-size pieces

3-4 medium-large fresh tomatoes, cut into bite-size pieces

1 medium-large red onion, peeled, quartered, and cut into 2-inch wedges

1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Greek dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup feta, crumbled

Cooked orzo, for serving

Fresh lemon, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a baking pan, combine the broccolini, tomatoes, and onion with the olive oil and toss. Add the oregano, red-pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and toss again until evenly coated. Top with feta and roast 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking process until the broccolini is a bit charred at the edges, the stems are easily pierced with a fork, and tomato skins start to blister. Transfer to a salad bowl and toss with cooked orzo. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice to taste and serve immediately.

Greek Salad

The National Herald

Greek salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, feta, and olives. (Photo by Eleni Sakellis)

2-3 medium to large tomatoes, chopped

1-2 small-medium cucumbers, chopped

1 small-medium red onion, sliced

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/4 teaspoon Greek dried oregano

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Kalamata olives

1/2 cup Feta, Dodonis or Arahovas

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, Greek sea salt, oregano, freshly ground pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and the Kalamata olives. Top with feta and sprinkle with additional oregano, if preferred. Serve immediately.