:: Most of the cooking and photography for this blog happens on the weekend, when there’s no work and more hours of daylight to produce something worthy of sharing.
It means I can take my time trying new recipes or new techniques, which (if I’m being perfectly honest) fuels considerable excitement as the end of the working week approaches.
What do I want to cook? What seasonal ingredients are around? What do I want to share with everyone? How to photograph it?
These are the questions streaming through my head as the weekend draws near. Plans, list and ideas.
During the week is a far different story, though. Dinner is dependent on two factors – what’s in the pantry and my level of motivation after a long day.
Having only one mouth to feed (except of course for the furry one), I have the luxury of making it as complex or simple as time and energy permit (the furry one’s content as long as he gets fed on time). Forward planning is rather non-existent and what to eat for dinner is normally decided on the way home.
Eating this way ensures a great deal of variety but there’s one dish in my repertoire that often gets made more than once a week – Greek salad. I adore feta cheese and will never, ever get tired of this wonderful salad. It’s fast and full of fresh ingredients – and a big bowl is enough to satisfy me. Often I’ll pair it with steak or salmon but even by itself it’s a winner.
Sometimes there are guest appearances – rocket, char-grilled capsicum, fresh thyme or fennel – but the core recipe remains the same, dressed simply with the bright flavours of lemon and olive oil.
I have to hand it to those ancient Greeks – they certainly had the right idea…
This recipe serves four as a reasonable main.
1 cucumber, core removed and diced into 1cm cubes
1 red capsicum, diced into 1cm pieces
1 yellow capsicum, diced into 1cm pieces
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, quartered
¼ red onion, diced into 1cm pieces
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
½ cup fresh oregano, leaves picked
200g firm feta cheese
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
Freshly cracked black pepper
To make the dressing, pour the lemon juice into a small jar with a screw top lid. Add the sugar and cracked pepper and shake the bottle until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. Taste and adjust the sugar to your liking (some lemons need a bit more to temper their acidity). Add the olive oil and shake until emulsified.
In a large salad bowl, gently toss the cucumber, capsicum, cherry tomatoes, onion, oregano and olives with half the dressing. You can either chop the oregano or add the whole leaves (I had a combination both this time).
Break the block of feta apart with you hands and crumble over the top of the salad. I prefer to do it this way rather than cut it into cubes, as the crumbled texture compliments the crisp vegetables nicely. Pour over the rest of the dressing and serve immediately on its own, or accompanied by crusty white rolls, steak or other protein.