In her stupendous New Penguin Cookery Book Jill Norman describes some salads as Composed Salads or Salade composèe, which she defines as ‘ imaginative mixture of what ever salads and vegetables are in season. It is fairly substantial; it can be elaborate or constructed from just a few elements; it can be served as a first course or comprise a meal in itself’ she adds ‘it is important to make sure that the flavours of the ingredients chosen are compatible and do not cancel each other out’.
Composed salads need to be, well, carefully and thoughtfully composed, they are not a mish mash of fridge clearing which just look and taste messy. Composed salads are thoughtful, harmonious and clever compositions of fine ingredients which delight the eyes and the palate.
Ceasar salad, salad niçoise, pear, walnut and roquefort salad, chicken liver salad, fennel and orange, crab and avocado salad, salad frisèe aux lardons, greek salad are just some of my composed (sorry if it sounds pretentious but it is the perfect word) salads of preference, all 8 triumphant and delicious.
A well made Greek salad is enough to make me happy and bring back warm memories of our yearly holidays by the sea in Sounion. I like this salad for lunch with some pitta bread or it makes a lovely partner with grilled lamb.
This is how they used to make a greek salad at our local Taverna in Sounion.
Serves 4 as a starter and 2 as a generous main
250g of firm but flavoursome slightly sweet tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 small red onion, a hand full of black olives (Greek Kalamata if possible), 200g feta cheese, olive oil, greek if possible, 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Wash and dry the tomatoes and then cut away the hard center where the stalk was attached then cut them into 4 quarters and then each quarter in half.
Peel the cucumber and then cut it in half along its lengh, then each half in two and finally each quarter into chunky wedges.
Peel and chop the onion into chunky peices,
In a small bowl whisk together 5tbsp of good olive oil, 1tbsp of lemon juice and just a liitle salt (the salty fetta will contrtibute later).
Cut the fetta into nice sized squares
When you nearly ready to serve the salad put the tomato, cucumber, onion and olives in a shallow bowl, add the dressing and toss well. Lay the slices of fetta over the top and grind over a little black pepper.
Serve immediately. Allow everyone to admire it first before tossing again and breaking up the fetta a little and allowing its salty deliciousness to disperse through the salad.