Friday, July 23, 2010
MEDITERRANEAN PEPPER SALAD
I’m salad-obsessed. It must be the weather. I’m also, ever since my quinoa tabbouleh and chicken gyros successes, Mediterranean-obsessed. Why did it take me so long to discover feta? (I mean, I knew about it before, but I never used it at home.) And is there anything more perfectly refreshing on a summer day than a crisp, cool cucumber? I bookmarked this salad at Smitten Kitchen ages ago, and finally dusted it off to accompany my second go-round of chicken gyros. Not surprisingly, it’s as light and colorful and delicious as it looks. The quick-pickling of the red onions in a sugar-salt-vinegar brine (some of which is then incorporated into the dressing) is genius—it takes away their bite and gives them incredible zippiness, as well as an exciting neon-pink hue. I only made a few slight changes: left out the olives, because I hate them; used the tomatoes that Deb forgot; used pre-crumbled feta cheese because I had some I needed to use up, which ended up being less than 4 ounces (which was not sufficient—next time I’ll definitely use big cubes of the fresh stuff and plenty of it); and used only two bell peppers, red and orange, because the rest of the farmers’ market offerings were looking sad and wrinkly, subbing in another Persian cuke instead (this was an OK change; I still find raw peppers sort of intense in their crunchy-chewiness, and I love cucumbers, as already mentioned). Even though two of these changes were just ingredient-availability issues I hope not to repeat, I get the feeling this is a very forgiving salad you can mix up however you like. We’ll definitely be having it again this summer, possibly with hummus and pita crisps.
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
½ medium red onion, cut into ½-inch dice
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors, cored, seeded, and chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 kirby or Persian cucumber, chopped into ½-inch pieces
¼ pound firm feta cheese, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if they’re large
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Stir together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt, and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside for at least 15 minutes so the onions can lightly pickle (this is a good time to chop all your other ingredients).
2. Mix the peppers, cucumber, feta, and tomatoes in a large bowl.
3. Drain the onions, reserving the vinegar mixture. Add the onions to the bowl containing the pepper mixture. Pour ¼ cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Toss evenly. You can serve right away, or let the flavors mingle in the fridge for a few hours.
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.