How to Transform Last Night’s Ulam Into a Hearty Greek Salad

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Greek salads are big hits for their simplicity, freshness, and creative use of easy-to-find ingredients. They exemplify the Mediterranean diet, which champions top-quality produce, healthy fats, lean meats, and other unprocessed components. If you’d like to give your daily meals a nutrient boost, add these salads to your diet. Here, learn how to make them yourself!

How to Make Greek Salads With Leftovers and Staples

Blocks of feta cheese with red pepper flakes, olives, and olive oil

Follow the steps below when building your salad, and you’re sure to come up with something satisfying, complete with all the signature Greek flavors. Need recipe inspiration? Try these:

  • A horiatiki salad is what most people (and restaurants!) call a classic “Greek salad.” It consists of tomatoes, onions, cucumber, feta cheese, and olives. Season it with salt and dried oregano, then toss it in olive oil. Done!

  •  A patatosalata is a Greek-style potato salad. It features bite-sized potato chunks and various mix-ins, like onions, boiled eggs, and olives. It comes dressed in olive oil, mustard, mayonnaise, yogurt, and other combinations.

  • A tonosalata is the Greek version of tuna salad. It has tuna chunks, diced vegetables, and mix-ins that complement the fish, such as capers. You can make the dressing creamy with mayo or yogurt. Or just keep it fresh and simple with olive oil and lemon juice.

1. Start with the vegetables.

Salads are a terrific way to maximize leftover veggies from other recipes. They also typically call for preserved ingredients, like olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes, which keep well for months in your fridge or pantry. Unlike tomato paste or heavy cream for pasta, for example, you don’t need to use them in one go.

You can make various Greek cuisine-inspired salads with just a few versatile, always-on-hand vegetables. That list includes cabbage, cucumber, and tomatoes – nothing fancy or inaccessible here! And that’s by design. Legend has it that the standard salad in Greece was born out of the local farmers’ and peasants’ need to use whatever was available.

2. Add cheese and other flavorful mix-ins.

Now that your base is complete, it’s time to add heft and variety to your plate. Classic Greek salad ingredients consist of kitchen staples. That includes salt and pepper, dried or fresh herbs, and root crops like potatoes. They’re light on spices and rely on herbs, acidic elements (i.e., lemon juice and vinegar), and cheese for flavor.

Good-quality feta is a worth-it investment, especially if you’re eager to experiment with more Greek dishes. The cheese is sharp, tangy, and creamy, with a crumbly texture that makes it easy to sprinkle over salads. An unopened block of feta in brine can last up to a month in the fridge, while brineless variants can keep for seven days. Pro tip: if you ever have leftover feta, submerge it in brine to keep it usable longer. That half-block can last another four weeks in storage!

3. Toss in an easy Greek salad dressing.

A bottle of olive oil is poured over a salad in a bowl

Since these salads only require a handful of ingredients, it helps to spring for the good stuff when you can. Greeks take pride in the quality of their olive oil: an “irreplaceable nutritional component of the Greek diet,” as one local reporter put it. The oil is so tasty that it’s often the only thing they use to dress a salad.

Alternatively, you can use extra virgin if you like. A premium bottle can be pricey, but a little goes a long way. It’ll last a while and will result in superb salads. Have it plain, with a squeeze of lemon, or mixed with red wine vinegar for a simple vinaigrette. Congratulations! Now you know how to make a Greek salad dressing.

Some salads, like the patatosalata, need more zhuzhing. That’s where complementary condiments like mustard and Lady’s Choice Real Mayonnaise come in. The latter adds a distinct and rich creaminess, which makes dishes feel more filling. You can even use it in place of yogurt in recipes that call for it. Try it in a Greek-style pasta salad!

Keep these tips in mind to come up with provisions better than any of the overpriced stuff sold at restaurants. Your new motto: a Greek salad a day keeps the doctor away!

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