Yogurt Based Dressing For Greek Salad

greek saladI love what is commonly referred to as a “Greek Salad.” I have one several times a week. Lettuce, red onions, cherry tomatoes (or I will substitute regular tomatoes, diced if I don’t have cherry tomatoes), cucumber slices, olives, and sometimes green peppers and lots of feta cheese. When I have them, I also add sliced radishes as well. I’ve been buying a creamy Greek feta dressing to top it all off, sold under the name “Renee’s.”  But I thought I could try making my own and after some experimentation, I am enjoying a yogurt based dressing.

My first experiment tasted good, but the dressing was too runny. I used home made yogurt and mixed it with olive oil, but it was not the right consistency for me. So today, I made my own Greek style yogurt following these directions here.

I love making my own Greek style yogurt as it is so much less expensive than buying it at the grocery store.  I’ve been making my own yogurt for quite some time now, and simply use a few tablespoons from my previous batch as a starter for the new batch of yogurt. I’ve never purchased a starter from health food stores – you don’t need to do that as long as you already have unflavoured, unsweetened yogurt.

So with that introduction to yogurt and Greek style (true Greek yogurt uses goat’s milk, but you don’t need to use it as cow’s milk is fine), here’s my recipe for the dressing I am now using. Feel free to adjust the quantities of each ingredient to suit your own taste:

Ingredients:

1 Cup Greek Style Yogurt

3 Teaspoons Dried Oregano

3 Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1/8 Cup White Vinegar (a red wine vinegar might even be better).

Method:

Simply combine the above ingredients and blend.  I have an Osterizer immersible blender that I use.

Refrigerate before you use it (at least I prefer it chilled although it’s fine to use right after making it).

You may also want to add feta cheese to the dressing. I didn’t do that as my son doesn’t like to have “lumpy stuff” in his dressing and isn’t quite sure he likes feta. I guess it’s a texture thing for him.  But I do add plenty of feta to my salad.

As well, there’s of course nothing wrong with using store bought Greek style yogurt, but it will make the dressing a bit more expensive.  My Greek style yogurt, the way I make it, turns out almost like a cream cheese consistency, which I like.

Let me know if you try this and if you have any variations on it! I’d love to know if you would add anything additional or modify the ingredients in any way.

 

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Our Wee Garden

small garden plotYears ago, I had a quite large vegetable garden in which I grew a wide variety of things including tomatoes, peppers, horseradish, various types of lettuce, herbs, onions and much more. I loved gardening, and I had so many tomatoes each year that there was no need to purchase any tomato based products from about August to the following April. I made tomato sauces and preserved them as well as froze tomatoes.

In the summer time, it was awesome to also just go out and pick lettuce for salads anytime our family wanted. However, over the years circumstances being what they are sometimes, I had to move from that property and ended up living in places where gardening was impossible. Even now, although I live in a house, it has no backyard and it is simply not feasible to try any vegetable gardening.

However, this year, the town that I live in, made some small garden plots available in a “community garden” to residents of the town. There are not many plots, so I consider myself lucky that I discovered that the town was offering these plots earlier in the spring.  In addition to there not being very many, they are also quite small; much smaller than the vegetable gardens I used to have. Each one is only 14′ X 4′. Not big enough to have a wide variety of vegetable plants growing, but large enough that my now 11 year old son and I can have a nice time, walking over and watching as what we planted grows and begins to produce.

Because this is my first year in probably more than ten years putting in a vegetable garden, I was not well organized and hopefully next year will have a much better plan. As well, I was a bit late in planting – while others were planting at the end of May, I was concerned because we were still getting frost some nights right into the first week of June.  Unfortunately I was very busy for the next couple of weeks so I had a lot of catch up to do once I had time.

The first couple of rows are 8 tomato plants, probably planted too close together – but at this point, they are producing with many small tomatoes growing on them all as well as many more flowers continuing to bloom.  The first row of four are “Glamour Tomatoes” and the second, “Better Boy.” The next two rows are 4 each of Chile Peppers, which depending on the yield, I’ll dehydrate and use later in the winter in my chili dishes.

The fifth row is a lettuce variety that I can’t recall the name of at this time, then two rows of carrots followed by another row of lettuce, “black seeded Simpson.”

My son absolutely loves oregano and after reading about the healthy benefits of this herb at “Healthy, Happy, Beautiful,” he wants to have some every day, added to some dish or salad.  While growing a full row of oregano is not something I would normally do (and I’m not 100% sure it will grow well in this particular garden plot), David convinced to give it a try so that we could dehydrate and have our stock of of this very healthy herb.  So, we do have a row of it planted from seed. The biggest problem is that oregano seeds are so tiny and it was actually quite difficult to sow them.  Quite a number of the seeds ended spilling out of the package in the middle of the row and it was virtually impossible to see them and re-sow them.  I am hoping that when they get bigger, I’ll be able to thin out that section and replant them.

Following the row of oregano, we planted a couple of rows of “Little Marvel Peas.” At the end of our little plot are some tomato plants that I found at the local farmer’s

purple beauty pepper

Purple Beauty Bell Pepper

market after I had started planting my garden. They looked interesting to me and include 2 “Celebrity” tomato and 1 black cherry tomato plant.  All of these are also appearing to produce well.

Lastly, I planted a “Purple Beauty” pepper – a bell pepper that already has one nice sized fruit that is indeed.. a very dark purple!

It’s been a rather cool summer and so it does seem that things are a bit behind in what I would have expected, but I think we should be able to start harvesting lettuce, the purple peppers and maybe some tomatoes next week!

Do you enjoy gardening? I especially enjoy cooking – and using food I’ve grown myself! My son is really enjoying this experience as well.