Tuesday, May 1, 2012
This Greek Salad takes me back to my high school days in Michigan every time I eat it. There was a restaurant on Cass Elizabeth Lake Road called Mitch’s and their Greek salad has both ruined me and put me on a quest. Ruined because no Greek salad tastes like I remember their Greek salad did and ever since I have been searching for a substitute. But like a Porsche...there is no substitute. And the sad thing is, Mitch’s is gone. It think someone told me it burned down and they never rebuilt it. Tragic.
My girlfriend’s and I would make Mitch’s a destination once we all got our driver’s licenses. Sometimes a whole group of us would get a table and munch down on their breadsticks and salad. They had good pizza too but the highlight for me was always the salad. Other times we would get carry out and sit outside on a hot, summer, muggy, Michigan night and happily pick around the bright red beets and inhale the rest of that salad. It was especially near and dear to my friend Karen A’s and my heart. More than once we sat in her car Meyer (yes, we used to name our cars) eating that salad. It was a destination when we came home on break from college (she from Michigan State and me from Central Michigan) to get our Mitch’s Greek Salad fix, balancing the round foil container on our knees, laughing and catching up with each other about all the crazy things that we were doing at school. I remember feeling a wee bit jealous when our friend Meghan actually got a summer job there. Why couldn’t I find a job with a built in perk like that?
I make mental notes every time I see a Greek salad on a menu. Does the menu list beets? What about the olives? What kind are they? I insist on real Kalamata olives. I’m a bit of an olive snob now too. Should I try it? Do I risk disappointment once again? No restaurant has ever come close. So instead, when I am feeling the Greek salad urge and sometimes when I am feeling a bit nostalgic, I’ll get the ingredients together and make my own salad. Minus the beets. They just don’t taste the same as I remember when I put them in. Give this salad a try. It really is delicious and the beets are optional.
Salad Ingredients: (All of these quantities are flexible. Use more or less of the ingredients you like.)
1 head of ice burg lettuce ( a mixture of Romaine and ice burg is nice too.)
3 tomatoes diced
1/2 cucumber, diced. (I like English cucumbers when cucumbers are not in season.)
1/2 red onion, sliced very thinly.
1/4 cup of Kalamata olives (whole or sliced)
4 oz. feta cheese
Chop up the lettuce and put it on a large platter. Top the lettuce with the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion. Add the feta cheese and the Kalamata Olives. Add the dressing a few minutes before serving.
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. salt
a couple of shakes of ground black pepper
I usually mix my dressing up in a Pyrex measuring cup. Start with the olive oil, add the garlic using a garlic press. Add the juice of the lemon careful to catch any of the seeds. Add the sugar and whisk together. Add the oregano, salt, and pepper and whisk again till well combined. Taste it. If it is still too sour from the lemon juice, carefully add a bit more sugar till the sharp sour taste is gone. I like to then put it in a Mason Jar and keep it in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.
It’s not the same as Mitch’s but it’s darn close and I will continue on my quest for finding it’s clone. Something tells me I’m not going to find it down here. Ooops! Did I just say that?! Well, shut my mouth!