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Greek Salad, My Way

by . Featured in NIGELLA SUMMER
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Introduction

A Greek Salad in the summertime is one of those classic dishes that needs no tinkering. And yet, I confess tinkering is just what I have done here. The only substantial alteration I’ve made to the traditional recipe is to substitute the cucumber with fennel. I find the cucumbers one gets here are all too often tasteless and watery and end up contributing little, making the lettuce soggy to boot. But I also do my usual trick of steeping the onion (here, in vinegar and a little dried oregano) to lessen its rasp. Please bear in mind that this should be done at least two hours in advance, though you could easily set them a-steeping in the morning for lunch or dinner that day, or even the night before. And I add oil at the same time, which really means your dressing is done and ready. But otherwise, it’s a Greek Salad as you might expect and desire: full of crunch and flavour and punctured by salinity, which is provided generously by both the feta and the olives.

If you can get hold of a good cucumber, by all means go for it, although I know I’d miss the gently aniseed crispness of the fennel. But then, I’ve been making it my way for so long, it’s hardly surprising I feel like this.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

A Greek Salad in the summertime is one of those classic dishes that needs no tinkering. And yet, I confess tinkering is just what I have done here. The only substantial alteration I’ve made to the traditional recipe is to substitute the cucumber with fennel. I find the cucumbers one gets here are all too often tasteless and watery and end up contributing little, making the lettuce soggy to boot. But I also do my usual trick of steeping the onion (here, in vinegar and a little dried oregano) to lessen its rasp. Please bear in mind that this should be done at least two hours in advance, though you could easily set them a-steeping in the morning for lunch or dinner that day, or even the night before. And I add oil at the same time, which really means your dressing is done and ready. But otherwise, it’s a Greek Salad as you might expect and desire: full of crunch and flavour and punctured by salinity, which is provided generously by both the feta and the olives.

If you can get hold of a good cucumber, by all means go for it, although I know I’d miss the gently aniseed crispness of the fennel. But then, I’ve been making it my way for so long, it’s hardly surprising I feel like this.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

The Ultimate Greek Salad
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 6-8

Metric Cups
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 200 millilitres extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of maldon salt
  • 1 very large cos lettuce
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 125 grams pitted black olives
  • 400 grams feta cheese
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 1 pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 1 very large romaine lettuce
  • 1 bulb fennel
  • ¾ cup pitted black olives
  • 1 pound feta cheese
  • juice of ½ lemon

Method

  1. Peel and finely slice the red onion into fine half-moons, then sprinkle over the oregano and grind over some pepper.
  2. Pour in the vinegar and oil and toss well, cover, and leave to steep for a good 2 hours; longer's fine. What you'll notice, once it's had its time, as well, is that the blooded crimson of the onion is somehow now a luminescent puce.
  3. When you want to eat, get started with the rest of the salad. Cut the tomatoes into chunks or long slices, as preferred. Sprinkle the sugar and a pinch of salt over them and leave while you get on with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Wash the lettuce if you need to (I always try and get away with not) tear into big pieces and put into a large, wide salad bowl.
  5. Slice the fennel and add that, then the olives and the feta, cut or crumbled into rough chunks, and toss well.
  6. Now add the tomatoes, the red onion - now a lucent pink - in its marinade-dressing and the lemon juice. Toss gently, but thoroughly, so that everything is well combined. This is addictive: you will find yourself making it all through summer - and beyond.
  1. Peel and finely slice the red onion into fine half-moons, then sprinkle over the oregano and grind over some pepper.
  2. Pour in the vinegar and oil and toss well, cover, and leave to steep for a good 2 hours; longer's fine. What you'll notice, once it's had its time, as well, is that the blooded crimson of the onion is somehow now a luminescent puce.
  3. When you want to eat, get started with the rest of the salad. Cut the tomatoes into chunks or long slices, as preferred. Sprinkle the sugar and a pinch of salt over them and leave while you get on with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Wash the lettuce if you need to (I always try and get away with not) tear into big pieces and put into a large, wide salad bowl.
  5. Slice the fennel and add that, then the olives and the feta, cut or crumbled into rough chunks, and toss well.
  6. Now add the tomatoes, the red onion - now a lucent pink - in its marinade-dressing and the lemon juice. Toss gently, but thoroughly, so that everything is well combined. This is addictive: you will find yourself making it all through summer - and beyond.

Additional Information

For vegetarians make sure the feta is one that uses vegetarian rennet.

For vegetarians make sure the feta is one that uses vegetarian rennet.

Tell us what you think

What 4 Others have said

  • So many have rightly praised this genius incarnation of Greek salad, and I can only add to the chorus. I implore you, MAKE THIS. You will not be sorry and like in our summers, it will be a dish to look forward to on those scorching days.

    Posted by AriH on 2nd June 2021
  • I was not prepared for how good this recipe is. I assumed, incorrectly, that one Greek salad was pretty much like the next. I was wrong. I served this to company one evening, and I have never seen anything disappear so quickly. Using fennel in place of cucumber is a genius touch. Everything stays crunchy and the flavor pairs with the oregano beautifully. The vinegar steeping trick for the onions also makes for an ultra flavorful dressing. I served it with the Nigellan Flatbreads and followed with the Strawberry Shortcakes (both from Domestic Goddess.) This salad was a huge hit and know I'll be making it over and over!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 9th April 2021
  • This is a summer favorite, the colors so beautiful, the flavors so well balanced, and with a delightful juicy crunch. Every time I make it I marvel at how well the fennel goes in this. Perfect!

    Posted by AriH on 18th August 2020
  • I am so excited to find this recipe here tonight as it is definitely my all time favourite. I never knew what to do with fennel until I discovered this recipe. Hint: I sometimes just make up a bowl of the onion mix and leave in the fridge for a few days to use as my salad topper. Ultimately delish..!!

    Posted by Miseve on 24th July 2014
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