Friday, July 15, 2011

Holy Cats! It's Greek Salad!

Hans Silvester, "Chat in Grece"
Like most Moms, I frequent a lot of waiting rooms. There's the dentist and the doctor and the orthodontist and myriad other places where I simply have to sit and wait.

On a recent stint in a waiting room, I didn't have anything to read, so picked up a coffee table book there. It is a beautiful book of photographs by Hans Silvester, called Cats in the Sun. He spent years in Greece photographing the cats who live there. The cats, he explains, do not belong to anyone in particular and they do not live inside the homes. But, they are well fed and well cared for by the residents. The photographs are breathtaking: classic white stuccoed buildings against a deep blue sea, simple little tavernas and cafes overflowing with potted flowers and dappled sunlight, and the characteristic narrow flagstone paths, streets and patios. All of Greece becomes a stunning backdrop for exploring these kitties' lives through photographs.

This book lowers my blood pressure every time!

While I have not yet been to Greece, I do love Greek food. During the summer months, I make Greek salads, which, I understand, are ubiquitous on many cafe menus there. The following is one of my favorites because it serves as a whole meal. Because Handsome Dan thinks all meals should include meat,  I grill chicken breasts to slice over the top. If you have time to marinate the chicken in the lemon vinaigrette, make extra and let set overnight. If you don't have time, don't worry--it is delicious without marinating. Shrimp also would be delicious in this salad.

Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken
serves 4

Lemon Vinaigrette
(double recipe if you want to use some for marinade)
1/4 cup first cold pressed olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Salad Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion (after slicing, place onion in a strainer and rinse under cold water--this takes out the sharpness)
20 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
lemon zest, fresh oregano, lemon slices for garnish, if desired

Put all dressing ingredients into a small jar, tighten the lid and shake until mixed. Set aside.

Place each chicken breast between two pieces of plastic and pound slightly so that the chicken is of even thickness. There is no need to pound them to smitherines for this recipe. If marinating, place the pounded chicken breasts into a gallon baggie and pour half the dressing/marinade over. Seal the bag and squish the contents so that all the chicken is covered with the marinade. Place in fridge and turn every now and then. Can be marinated for one hour or even overnight.

Brush grill with oil and heat to medium-high (Often, I use my indoor grill pan; it works great for just a few pieces of chicken).  If you haven't marinated the chicken, brush each piece with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. If you have marinated, remove chicken pieces and drain well. Discard marinade. When grill is very hot, place chicken pieces on the diagonal. Let sizzle for a minute then turn pieces so they are on the other diagonal and let grill for 4-5 minutes. Flip chicken pieces and grill another 4-5 minutes. Remove from grill and let rest.

To make the salad, place lettuce, cucumber, tomato, onion and olives in a large bowl. Toss with a bit of the dressing and place portions on individual plates. Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal and scoop onto each salad. Sprinkle with feta cheese. Garnish with a sprinkle of lemon zest and fresh oregano, as well as lemon slices if desired. Serve, passing the remainder of the dressing.

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