Greek Week went on furlough last week as a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa broke the flow posts that fit with the Mediterranean Diet. There was still lots of cooking as the ingredients for this recipe made their way from Austin to Des Moines in a cooler — and came together quickly for a cookout at my nephew Eric and his wife Jenny’s new house in a delightful and unincorporated section of town known as Dogpatch.
Best as I can figure, when it comes to the Mediterranean Diet, no one is actually splitting hairs as to whether a particular fish swims in the Mediterranean sea or a certain vegetable is native to the Green Isles. Aside from the two pillars of the Mediterranean Diet — garlic and olive oil — the staples fall into broad categories.
- Nuts, legumes and seeds
- Olive Oil (cold pressed extra virgin)
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
The good news is that there appears to be a lot of leeway; the bad news is that feta cheese does not appear to have any sort of exalted status. Not only does feta not have a line unto itself, I don’t see where it even fits on the above list. Outrageous. No one has ever heard of a Greek Salad without feta and I have no intention of starting. But I did feel inclined to mix it up a bit with the standard Greek Salad.
Inspired by a seemingly whacky combo that I found on a salad bar about five years ago, I came up with the following variation on the Greek Salad. Quite tasty.
- 12 oz. fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup walnuts
- 3/4 cup red or purple seedless grapes, halved
- 6 oz. crumbled feta
- 1/3 of a red onion thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 300. Spread walnuts on a cake pan or cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
- In a salad bowl, combine spinach, roasted walnuts, halved grapes, feta and red onion.
- Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, salt and pepper.
- Toss salad with lemon vinaigrette and serve.