Greek Salad pays homage to the Mediterranean Diet

Updated: 2013-09-04T01:58:02Z


The Kansas City Star

Editor’s note: This is an updated version of a column that originally ran in 2008.

Sure, diet trends come and go.

When Oldways, a dietary think tank, introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993, extra-virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and kalamata olives were hard-to-find ingredients.

Today the key ingredients are available in nearly every supermarket, and the Mediterranean eating style is widely recognized as the gold standard for optimum health.

Early this year, the New England Journal of Medicine website reported on the results of the first clinical trial that included 7,447 people in Spain who were at high cardiovascular risk. The study found that people who ate the Mediterranean diet reduced their risk of heart disease and stroke by 30 percent.

In the traditional diets of Greece, Crete and southern Italy, people typically consume olive oil as their principal fat, rounding out their diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables, legumes, fish, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Daily exercise and moderate red wine consumption are also an important part of the lifestyle.

The Star’s Greek Salad pays homage to the Mediterranean Diet, albeit with a slight modern twist: fat-free feta. Fat-free feta is a fairly new product showing up in many dairy cases alongside the blocks and crumbles of plain, reduced fat and multi-flavored versions.

Skip the fat in the feta, and you have room to add a few more lovely ripe olives.

•  Shopping tip: Pepperoncini (peh-per-awn-CHEE-nee) is a mild to medium-hot yellow-green pepper available at most supermarket salad bars. It’s also found in the pickle and salad dressing aisle.

Greek Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups torn mixed lettuce (romaine and iceberg leaves)

2 tomatoes, seeded and sliced into thin wedges

1/2 cup sliced cucumber

2 tablespoons pepperoncini, rinsed and well drained

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 to 2 tablespoons fat-free feta cheese

Olive garnish, optional

Whisk together olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside and allow to stand at room temperature 10 minutes.

Place lettuce in salad bowl. Top with tomatoes, cucumber, pepperoncini and red onion. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle with feta cheese.

Per serving (without olives): 59 calories (42 percent from fat), 3 grams total fat (trace saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 6 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 109 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss. To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to or follow her on Facebook. Follower her on Twitter: @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc.

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