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Greek Pasta Salad



I hope you are not superstitious about things such as Friday the 13th and the like.  I have never been superstitious about such things.  In fact I was born on the 13th of a month, so occasionally my birthday has actually been on a Friday, so it is actually a very lucky day for me. In fact on my 40th birthday, I went to Bingo with my SIL and I won the jackpot.  So, yes, very lucky for me.  Hmmm . . .  perhaps I should buy a lottery ticket!  And this has absolutely nothing to do with today's recipe, except for the fact that today you should absolutely make this, Friday the 13th or not! 



I had never heard of Greek Salad until I was in my late 20's.  I had gone to lunch with a friend of mine to a Pizza place and she ordered a Greek Salad.  It had all this weird looking white cheese scattered over the top of it and plenty of Kalamata olives.  I wasn't so sure about the white cheese, but it looked really tasty. 



Of course back in those days, I only ever ate plastic cheese.  (I know horror of all horrors!)  I allowed my friend to tempt me into trying the feta cheese, which is what that white cheese was called.  I have to admit, it took all of my plastic cheese eating courage just to try it.  I really didn't think I would like it. I was prepared to shudder . . .



I fell in love at first bite.  I quite liked this Feta cheese, and since then have embraced Greek Salads in every form or shape (along with Feta and a few other Greek cheeses as well).  Today's is one of my favourite versions.


It embodies all of the elements of a good Greek Salad with fresh crisp cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, red onions, kalamata olives, plenty of parsley and a delicious red wine herbed dressing.  Oh, and pasta twists, which while not exactly traditional, make this a fabulously tasty and hearty salad!


I have always loved cucumbers.  Crisp, with an almost melon texture and flavour, they are really refreshing. Some people have problems digesting them, but I never have. Sometimes they can be bitter, but my mother always said that if you peeled them from the centre down to the end, it took the bitterness away.  I always do that and have never had a bitter cucumber. Luck perhaps, but then again, this is Friday the 13th!


You can also run a fork down the sides of the unpeeled cucumber, which not only does the trick, but makes a pretty pattern on the cucumber.  I have also heard that if you cut off both the blossom and the stem ends of the cucumber, just a sliver, and then rub the cut sides of the bits you have cut off, against the cut ends of the cucumber until a foam comes up, that also takes away the bitterness.  I cannot speak to the truthfulness of that because I have never done it!


Today I used a mix of red and yellow baby plum tomatoes.  Nice and sweet, and I confess right now, i didn't have any Kalamata olives and so used a good black olive, but traditionally Kalamata are the way to go and the ones I normally use.


I also use whole wheat pasta, which I quite like. It almost has a nutty flavour and is really good for you with more fibre, which makes it low GI.  The dressing is what really pulls this all together. I use a pure extra virgin olive oil and a good quality red wine vinegar.  Fresh herbs from my garden, picked just prior to using also helped to bring a lovely fresh herby flavour.  I included some oregano flowers to garnish it which I thought were really pretty, as several of my herbs are now in bloom.  Altogether this is really, really nice!


*Greek Pasta Salad*
Serves 6


If you like Greek Salad, you are going to love this pasta salad filled with vegetables, herbs, olives and feta cheese. 


230g (2 cups) fusilli pasta, uncooked
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
a handful of diced pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 peeled red onion, very thinly sliced
a handful of parsley, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
230g feta cheese, cubed or crumbled (1 cup)

For the dressing:
60ml red wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
180ml good olive oil (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup finely minced fresh basil, oregano, and or dill (a very large handful)
1 tsp finely minced peeled garlic
salt and black pepper to taste 




Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to package directions.  Drain well in a colander. Drizzle with 1 TBS of the olive oil.  Shake the colander to distribute the oil and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, place in a serving bowl and add all of the vegetables, tossing all well together.  Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a jar and shake to emulsify the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  You will have more dressing than you need for the salad, but it is a good dressing to have for other salads.  Add 80ml (1/3 cup) to 120 ml (1/2 cup) to the salad, tossing all together well.  Gently fold in the feta cheese.  Serve at room temperature.


The Clever Cook could turn this into a meal by adding cooked chickpeas,  tinned artichokes, grilled chicken, homemade garlic croutons, or fresh seafood such as cooked shrimps or calamari! Bon Appetit! 



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Marie Rayner
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4 comments:

  1. Put me in front of a delish pasta salad et je suis heureuse!!:)

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  2. This looks much like my favorite pasta salad recipe down to the herbs -- except that you actually have quantities and I kind of dump it all in! Oh, how I love feta. Might be my favorite cheese or certainly in the top three -- stilton/blue/gorgonzola (I count them as one), feta and very sharp cheddar! Love cukes too. I'm having one for lunch today.

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    1. Good times when I was a child and my mother would give us a whole cucumber to eat for lunch! Thanks for the happy memory Jeanie! xo

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