Zesty Greek Salad

Zesty Greek Salad

Whenever I get a craving for a bright and colorful salad with lots of vegetables, I come home to this Zesty Greek Salad recipe. Loaded with red and yellow peppers, thin disks of red onion, sweet cherry tomatoes, and crunchy slices of cucumber, this salad is a flavor explosion.  Diced feta and Kalamata olives add substance and a salty tang of goodness. Top it all off with a lemony vinaigrette punched up with garlic, Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar.

Traditional versions of Greek Salad call for strips of green pepper. You can use those, but we prefer Ina Garten’s recommendation to use red and yellow peppers diced in large pieces; they’re sweeter tasting and look so much prettier, especially in a beautiful cut-glass or lucite bowl. e.

Is this Zesty Greek Salad a Main Dish Salad or a Side?

Easy answer: both! Our favorite way to use Zesty Greek Salad is a long side our Chicken Shawarma. It’s also delicious as a side dish paired with grilled or rotisserie chicken for a quick and easy dinner. Leftover salad makes a fabulous lunch accompanied by pita chips or wedges of pita bread brushed with olive oil or toasted in the oven. Either way you serve it, you can’t go wrong.

I Don’t Like the Taste of Raw Onion, Can I omit it?

This recipe calls for raw slices of red onion. For those of you who dislike the sharp, pungent aftertaste of raw onion (and that includes me!), try this trick: Submerge the diced or sliced onion in at least 2 cups of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and dry, then use. To add a pickled flavor to the onion, add 2 tablespoons of any fresh citrus juice or apple cider or white vinegar. You’re gonna love me for this tip!

Dried Oregano: The Key to a Great Mediterranean Dressing

Oregano is a staple spice in Mediterranean and Italian cooking so you should always have some on hand. It’s rare that we recommend dried spices over fresh herbs (check out our post on cooking with Fresh herbs here). Dried oregano is one of few dried spices that we do like to use. Its sturdy leaves dry well and retain much of the essential oils of the herb.

If you don’t like the taste of oregano, it’s probably because you are using the wrong brand or a variety that has dried out and become stale. You have to be careful that your bottle of this dried herb is fresh. When crumbled or rubbed between your fingers, the aroma released should be sharp and strong. If your bottle of dried oregano is faded and the aroma is weak, you’ve basically got sawdust on your hands – throw it away! 

There are two basic types of oregano:

  • Mediterranean oregano
  • Mexican oregano

Without getting into too much detail, the Mediterranean oregano is milder and faintly sweeter, while the Mexican type is stronger, with a hint of menthol. We love both, but for this dish, use the Mediterranean version. McCormick’s has a gourmet version, and you can buy fabulous, high-quality dried spices of all kinds online at Penzeys Spice or The Spice House and Burlao & Barrel’s. If you’ve tried a bottle of high quality dried oregano and still don’t care for it, you can always substitute majoram or, in a pinch, thyme.

Zesty Greek Salad

January 23, 2020
: 6
: 40 min
: 40 min
: Easy


  • ½ red onion, sliced in half rounds
  • 1 red pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, large diced
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded, chopped in ¼ inch slices
  • ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 5 oz. feta cheese, crumbled or diced
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed (about 2 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil.
  • Step 1 Prep the veggies by slicing the onion and cucumber, dicing the peppers and halving the cherry tomatoes.
  • Step 2 Put the vegetables in a large serving bowl and squeeze the lemon juice over them.
  • Step 3 Make the vinaigrette by whisking together in a small glass or ceramic bowl, the garlic, oregano, mustard, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. Add the olive oil slowly and whisk vigorously.
  • Step 4 Add the diced feta cheese and olives to the vegetables. About 30 minutes before serving, add the dressing.