While I was in Greece last summer, I enjoyed a few Greek salads! Being tomato, onion, and cucumber season here in the Pacific NW, this is a perfect, light, but balanced late summer salad. Even as we approach Fall, in these last few weeks of summer, we can enjoy this generally cooling, moistening, and detoxifying dish. Summer is the season of warmth, activity, outward-flowing energy, and is associated with the Fire element in Five Element Theory. A locally harvested, if possible, Greek Salad will help cool the heat and fire of summer and cleanse the liver as we move towards the cooler months. In Chinese medicine, we treat preventatively in the opposite time of year. By eating foods that balance out the natural characteristics of each season, we automatically start to prepare our body for health and balance in the coming months.
Of course, using local and/or organic whenever possible makes this fresh, light salad all the healthier!
1 cucumber, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pt. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 c. Kalamata olives, halved
6 oz. feta, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a large bowl, toss cucumber, onion, tomatoes, and olives. Gently fold in the feta.
2. In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and oregano until combined; season with salt and pepper. Slowly stream in oil, whisking until dressing is smooth and emulsified.
3. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss again to combine.
The 2 main vegetables (though yes, a tomato is a fruit) - cucumber and tomato - are cooling in nature. Considering summertime can be quite hot, and therefore sometimes inflammatory, these vegetables are a perfect, natural way to stay cool. Cucumber is a diuretic, helping our bodies’ detoxify, while simultaneously hydrating. Additionally, they contain the digestive enzyme, erepsis. This enzyme helps to break down the protein found in feta cheese. Tomatoes, though acidic in nature, once exposed to digestive enzymes, become alkaline, helping to reduce inflammation. They also help nourish the blood. The red onion in this salad matches perfectly with the feta.
Sheep and goat milk feta may be easier for many to digest than cow’s milk feta. Feta cheese is moistening and full of protein. Unfortunately, it can also produce phlegm that can sometimes be problematic. The warming, acrid nature of the onion helps to loosen and move phlegm produced by the cheese and assists with protein metabolism, while it’s warming nature works to balance the coolness of the cucumber and tomato.
The Kalamata olives and the olive oil are deliciously moistening, providing our bodies with healthy fats to balance out the carbohydrates and proteins of the rest of the salad. With the lemon juice furthering clearing heat and the oregano and vinegar stimulating digestion, I find this salad to be one of my favorite go-to’s for late summer. I hope you enjoy!
PS. If you have any food sensitivities or allergies to any of these ingredients, please comment or send me a message so we can brainstorm delicious substitutes!