A simple, straight-forward salad that will fill you up, especially when you're on a diet during the winter months.
It's that time of the year again, my annual trip to The Real Greek. By now I know the menu off by heart, ordering my favourites without even referring to it. The Real Greek has six branches in London and last year opened its first restaurant outside the capital, in Windsor.
If you're not living in London, fret not, The Real Greek and I have been collaborating over the past few years to teach the home cook how to recreate its spiffy dishes at home. Greek Salad, Htipiti and Tzatziki are the starters we've produced so far and check out these Greek cookbooks that will further inspire you to bring the mediterranean to your kitchen:
- Smashing Plates: Greek Flavours Redefined
- Food From Many Greek Kitchens
- Vefa's Kitchen
- It's All Greek to Me
Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients. The leek, onion, celery, garlic and carrot need to be blitzed into a pulp in a food processor such as a Magimix. This mixture is known as sofrito and serves the same, albeit more flavoursome, purpose as a stock cube. So if you're in a real hurry or don't have the ingredients at hand, you know what to do - substitute!
You don't need to soak lentils overnight. However, if you do, you will reduce the cooking time by half. After you've simmered the sofrito, lentils and allotted water there should be little water left in the pot. Now you add your olive oil, lemon juice, salt and ground pepper. In Greek cuisine, these lentils are known as Fakes Salata. You can eat it warm on its own for a snack or as a starchy side dish to a main course.
In fact, the lentils are so versatile that if you add more water than stated in the recipe, you can blend everything in a Froothie when it's cooked, and voila, you've made Lentil Soup.
If you managed not to get sidetracked by the variations and are intent on making this delicious salad, the rest of the recipe is dead easy. Cooked, vacuum-packed beetroot is readily available at shops and you just need to chop it into manageable chunks. If you're feeling sassy, you can roast raw slices.
Use Greek feta if you can. Chop or crumble to your heart's content.
Lentils. Beetroot. Feta. Garnish with spring onion, parsley and dill if you like. Drizzle some vinaigrette or if you want to go completely Greek, use Ladolemono - a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice with a respective ratio of 70:30.