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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Greek Cucumber Salad - Αγγουροσαλάτα

With the summer in full swing here in the northern hemisphere, many of us are seeking relief from stifling temperatures. In some regions new record seasonal highs have been recorded; here in Toronto the past week was a true scorcher. Fortunately, Greek food culture includes recipes that are perfectly suited to beating the heat.

A bird's eye view of my Greek cucumber salad, click to enlarge

When Greeks sit down to a summertime meal, they will invariably include a raw salad of one kind or another. One of the more popular summertime Greek salads in our family is the world famous Aggourosalata (ah-goo-roh-sah-LAH-ta), or, Cucumber Salad. There are a few variations on the theme, but it is a very basic dish and serves as a refreshing course alongside other summertime favourites.

The cucumber has been α part of Greek cookery for millennia. It is used in the famous Tzatziki sauce, and can simply be sliced into wedges, salted or not, and consumed without any fuss, much like a melon. Indeed, a little known fact about the cucumber is that it is not a vegetable; it is actually a melon.

Ancient Greek melon patches included the long green fruits alongside more recognizable spherical varieties. Today, alas, cucumbers are found among the vegetables in market produce sections, which can cause some confusion regarding their genus. Fortunately, a few of us are familiar with the old ways and can serve to remind others of our forgotten Greek food heritage.

For presentation purposes this salad makes an impression, click to enlarge

As refreshing as a cucumber salad can be during the course of the summer, there is yet another means by which this melon can bring relief from the heat. My grandfather taught me the trick, just as his father taught him, and I have now passed it on to my son. The technique requires only a small part of the cucumber and does not involve consuming it. I will reveal this family custom in a separate posting following this one, so stay tuned…

  • 1 medium sized cucumber, chilled, washed but not peeled and sliced thinly
  • ½ medium sized red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons Greek extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons Greek wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
  • Kalamata olives
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper; to taste.

In a large bowl, combine and toss all the ingredients together. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Kali Orexi! Bon Appetit!

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand™
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.