What Is Greek Salad Dressing?
Greek salad dressing is light and used on various types of salads, including Greek salad. Some consider the taste to be a cross between Italian and Caesar dressing. It can be either vinaigrette style or creamy style and can include a variety of spices. Aside from its obvious use as a topping for salad, it can be used in other ways as well.
Traditionally, lemon and olive oil form the base for Greek salad dressing. Cooks often add spices such as oregano, basil, and garlic for additional flavor. People usually choose fresh lemon over lemon juice from concentrate so that the dressing has a crisp citrus taste that doesn't overpower the other ingredients. Greek olive oil, which has a stronger, more robust flavor than Italian olive oil, is preferred, although a good-quality extra-virgin Italian olive oil can be substituted. The combination of the lemon, olive oil, and spices tend to enhance the flavors of feta cheese, kalamata olives, and anchovies, some of the key ingredients found in a Greek salad.
Sometimes, cooks use red or white vinegar instead of lemon juice in Greek salad dressing. The use of vinegar does tend to give the dressing a stronger, more acidic flavor, and oftentimes, people add a little sugar to tame the tartness. Those in the know choose fresh garlic over powdered or processed. When garlic cloves are used instead of powder, they should be used in moderation; the flavor tends to increase as the dressing sits so that the garlic might overpower the taste of the dressing if it is kept for any length of time.
For people who prefer creamy types, Greek salad dressing can be made in that style too. Cooks still use a base of lemon or vinegar, but buttermilk, mayonnaise, or yogurt can be added to give the dressing a creamy texture. This can be tricky because the lemon or vinegar can curdle any dairy-based products if not combined properly — cooks blend the ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender to avoid this problem. As a variation, feta cheese can be added directly to the dressing when processing to give it a thicker texture. Adding dill can also give the mixture a unique taste.
While Greek salad dressing makes an excellent accompaniment for just about any type of salad, its uses are not limited to a dressing for greens. The basic dressing makes an excellent marinade for meats such as chicken, lamb, or pork. It also tastes excellent when used as a topping for a sandwich. The creamy variety of Greek salad dressing will also make an excellent dip, especially if it is thickened by adding crumbled feta cheese or yogurt. Either variety will also make an excellent topping for cooked vegetables, rice, or noodles.
I make my own Greek dressing and one way I emphasize the lemon flavor is to add some lemon zest, as well as juice, to the dressing. That gives it such a huge lemon taste, but you can still taste the other ingredients.
If I'm just serving plain salad, I'll also add some minced black olives to the dressing, and the lemon zest really goes great with the olives. Remember to season your lettuce leaves, too. Adding a little salt and pepper does help the lettuce taste better, and also remember to add some salt and pepper to the dressing, too. It needs it. Use less salt if you use olives.
I love Greek dressing. It's one of my favorites. I stopped eating ranch style dressing on my salad a long time, and I really prefer an oil and vinegar, or oil and lemon juice type of dressing. I just don't do the sweet dressings anymore
A local Italian restaurant makes their own Greek dressing, and it is wonderful. It has feta cheese in it, and a good, strong lemon punch, along with some spice in the form of black pepper. I always get it for my salad, and save the dish with the leftover dressing and dip my bread in it. Yum!
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