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Cafesano Italian & Mediterranean Bistro

Everything You Wanted to Know About Greek Salad

The first things that come to mind when you think of Greece are likely Ancient Greek temples, gorgeous islands with white houses and blue domes, and delicious Greek salad. 

Learn all about the delicious Greek Salad at Cafesano in Northern Virginia.

Known as a country with some of the best and healthiest cuisines in the world, Greek salad is a staple dish in any Greek restaurant or household. But, did you know Greek salad, packed with health benefits, has been around for less than 100 years?

While a classic, this delicious and refreshing salad has humble origins and was strategically created by a restaurant owner in Athens. 

Before you order your next Greek salad from your favorite Mediterranean restaurant (Cafesano, maybe?) or visit this gorgeous country on vacation, here is everything you should know about the dish. 

A Brief History of Greek Salad

Before we can dive into the history and creation of Greek salad, we have to travel back a couple of centuries to the introduction of the tomato. 

Tomato seeds originate in the Americas. They were brought back to Europe by conquistadors in the 16th century. Although, they didn’t make their way to Greece until 1818, just a couple of years before their war of independence from the Ottoman Empire. 

Even during the time after the war, Greeks were suspicious of the round red fruits because of their resemblance to Deadly Nightshade, and they were used more for decoration. 

Eventually, the Greeks accepted tomatoes into their diets and incorporated them into their meals. In fact, during the early 20th century, field workers would bring whole vegetables, such as cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes, wrapped in a tablecloth for lunch and bite directly into them – no cutting required! 

Their city-dwelling counterparts would chop up the vegetables and mix them in a bowl with olive oil. 

This is the earliest form of a Greek salad. 

The official Greek salad was introduced in the 1960s by a restaurant owner in Plaka, a stunning neighborhood in Athens sitting at the foot of the grand Acropolis. At the time, the government placed a price cap on how much restaurants could charge for salads that used critical ingredients to be fair to the consumer. 

In a business move that would change Greek cuisine forever, the restaurant owner added a block of feta cheese to the salad to avoid the price cap and in turn created the world’s first Greek salad. 

What Ingredients Are in a Greek Salad?

Greek salads are known for having fresh, crunchy, and savory ingredients. 

In a traditional Greek salad, the following ingredients are used:

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Red Onion
  • Kalamata Olives
  • Feta Cheese
  • Oregano
  • High-Quality Olive Oil

You’ll notice that an authentic Greek salad doesn’t use lettuce. This is mostly because the ingredients grow during the summer while lettuce is a winter vegetable in Greece. 

However, when enjoying a Greek salad outside of Greece, you will often find it mixed in with a bed of romaine lettuce for some extra crunch. 

Regional Variations of Greek Salad

Speaking of different ways to make Greek salad, there are different variations even throughout the country of Greece! 

In Crete, the largest island in Greece, a Greek salad is often served with rusk, which is a double-baked crunch bread made from whole wheat flour or barley. Think of it as a large crouton. 

On the small island of Tinos, just north of the famous Mykonos, Greek salad is made with capers, banana peppers, and sometimes even fresh seaweed for some extra saltiness. 

The islands of Paros and Naxos will add cubes of watermelon to sweeten the salad, especially during the summer months. 

And in the north of Greece, you will find Greek salad made with parsley. 

While the traditional Greek salad is made of eight main ingredients, it is very common to see different methods and variations based on the location. 

So, adding lettuce to your Greek salad doesn’t make it any less of a delicious Greek salad! 

Is Greek Salad Healthy?

Greek Salad is a healthy and hearty meal you can get at Cafesano in Dulles and Reston, VA.

If this authentic dish sounds delicious, then you’re gonna love what we have to say next – Greek salad is inherently healthy! 

As a staple dish in the Mediterranean diet, the healthiest diet in the world, Greek salad is made with fresh vegetables, heart-healthy fats, and low-calorie ingredients. 

It includes all the food groups – protein (feta cheese), healthy fats (olive oil), and vegetables. Serve with some toasted ciabatta or croutons and you’ll have your carbs there too! 

Did you also notice that it’s a great vegetarian option? 

Greek salad is a quick, delicious, and healthy dish that you can enjoy for lunch, dinner, or as a side to your entree. 

Enjoy Your Next Greek Salad at Cafesano Italian & Mediterranean Bistro

After reading about a Greek salad you’re probably craving one, right?

Well, we have some good news for you! 

Cafesano Italian & Mediterranean Bistro serves the best Greek salad in Northern Virginia. 

Made with fresh, local produce and top quality and aromatic olive oil over a bed of romaine lettuce, you’ll satisfy your craving in no time. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a freshly toasted warm ciabatta roll on the side, perfect for soaking up that leftover olive oil and tomato juice. 

The minute you take your first bite, you’ll feel transported to a local Greek taverna in the old country. 

Whether you’re satisfying a Greek craving or looking for a quick, delicious, and healthy meal to take home to your family, Cafesano is the answer! 

Serving high-quality Mediterranean and Italian dishes, our menu has something for everyone to enjoy at Cafesano. 

Check out our lunch and dinner menu or come in for a night out on the town at Cafesano today!