Horiatiki Salad is a traditional Greek Village Salad full of fresh vibrant vegetables and bursting with vibrant Mediterranean flavours.
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One look at this vibrant classic salad and your family will want to dig right in! The colourful vegetables really bring the party to the table while the briny feta and salty olives seal the deal.
The first secret to a great Horiatiki Salad is using the FRESHEST, seasonal ingredients you can find. Next, keep the chopping large and rustic. Everyone wants to see those beautiful veggies shine!
The final secret to a great Greek Village Salad? A zesty Greek vinaigrette made with quality olive oil, red wine vinegar, dry oregano, garlic, and plenty of fresh lemon.
What is Horiatiki Salad?
Horiatiki Salad may sound all Greek to you, and it is! In fact, it is the traditional name for a Greek Village Salad, with ‘Horiatiki’ meaning ‘village’ in Greek.
In the case of this salad, ‘village’ isn’t a specific place. It’s more like a style of salad eaten by every day working people, as opposed to royalty or nobility. The simplicity of this salad is what makes it so appealing.
This is the kind of salad that is literally, ‘chop and go’. Chop up the veggies, add feta and olives, drizzle with dressing and GO! It’s as simple as that.
What Ingredients are in Traditional Greek Village Salad?
Traditional Horiatiki is made up of large cubed cucumbers, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and onions. In Greece, Kalamata olives are very commonly used to top this salad, though maybe it depends on personal preference.
It is most common for Greeks to serve this salad with a generous slab of feta cheese because no one should ever cheap out on cheese! To finish there’s a drizzle of local olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and dried oregano.
What Horiatiki does NOT include is leafy greens of any sort. Remember that this salad is often eaten on the go and leafy greens never travel well. At home, however, I like to serve my Horiatiki in a bowl lined with green lettuce because I enjoy how it looks.
Variations of Greek Village Salad
Very few variations of Horiatiki exist within Greece. These may include the addition of green bell pepper, caper berries, or perhaps a different variety of olive.
Once this simple salad travelled outside of Greece, it became susceptible to many changes, some of which leave the original salad almost unrecognizable.
Leafy greens are a common addition throughout the rest of the world. However in this case it should be called ‘Greek Salad’ rather than ‘Horiatiki’ or ‘Greek Village Salad’. Other ingredients might include:
- Pepperoncini (hot pickled peppers)
- Dolmades (Rice stuffed grape leaves)
- Anchovies or Sardines
- Beets (Detroit Style)
- Potato Salad (Tampa Bay Style)
While a large slab of feta is common in Greek variations, cubed feta, or crumbled feta are also a great way to make the salad your own.
Ingredients For this Recipe
- red and green bell pepper
- red onion
- feta cheese
- good quality olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- dried oregano
I know it’s not always easy to find great tomatoes off season but here’s a little trick I use. While buying tomatoes, give them a sniff. If they smell like nothing, they will taste like nothing. If they smell of verdant summer tomatoes, buy them!
Try to use a mixture of bell pepper colours, just to liven things up a bit and ALWAYS use red onion. No subsitutions!
In this recipe, I specify English cucumbers. This is because I’m lazy and don’t want to spend my time de-seeding a cucumber.
Greeks are very passionate about olive oil. While it may be tempting to use everyday EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) this simple salad deserves the very best olive oil from the back of your pantry. I don’t care if it’s Greek or Italian…just use the best you have. You will notice a huge difference in the flavour, guaranteed.
While most traditional Horiatiki Salad recipes do not contain lemon juice, I like to add a splash to the vinaigrette. Sometimes I add the zest, too.
Similarly, use the freshest dried oregano even if that means buying another jar to replace the stale one in the cupboard. Worth it!
How to Make Horiatiki Salad at Home
Whipping up a bowl of this salad is so quick and simple. You don’t even need any fancy knife skills to create this attractive side dish. Though there is a cool little tomato trick that is worth trying out…
The most difficult step to this recipe is coring and de-seeding the tomatoes. To do this, place the tomatoes stem side down on a cutting board. With the tip of your knife (and beginning at the blossom end) slice through the tomato flesh and stop just before you reach the stem end.
Cut the ripe tomatoes into six equal wedges, then peel it back to reveal the entire inside of the tomato. This takes a bit of practice so don’t worry if you can’t get the hang of it right away. De-seed and core the tomato however you prefer.
Once you have the slices of tomato, slice them again crosswise to create bite sized pieces. Season with salt and set aside while you prepare the other vegetables.
Next, let’s tackle that cucumber. Slice off the ends and cut it into three more manageable pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise into halves, then lengthwise again into quarters. Chop again into bite sized pieces.
Core and de-seed the bell peppers. Cut them into inch wide strips, then cut the strips crosswise into 1 inch squares.
Finally, the onions. They can make or break this salad. If they are quite strong that is ALL you will taste so prepare them accordingly. Chop them in one inch pieces, or smaller if you prefer.
If the onions are quite strong, prepare them ahead of time then allow them to soak in a bowl of cold water for an hour. This will rid them of any strong or bitter flavours and make them more palatable.
To assemble the salad, place the chopped tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, olives, and feta in a serving bowl lined with lettuce leaves (or not),
Finally, mix up the vinaigrette by adding the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to a small jar. Put the lid on the jar and give it a good shake. Pour over the top of the salad and serve!
Making and Storing Horiatiki Salad
While this salad is sturdy and portable, it is best eaten on the same day it’s made. It will keep overnight in the fridge but it is definitely not a ‘make ahead’ dish.