August is when you start to see many large vegetables at your local farmer’s market. After one trip to the market, you can come home with fresh green peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. With these vegetables, some fresh basil from your garden or the market, and a few extra ingredients bought from the store, you can create the freshest Greek salad that you may eat all year.
Peppers are harvested in August in British Columbia, and you will certainly find some at your local farmer’s market during this month. Their variations in colour can add a lot of visual appeal to your Greek salad as well as slightly different tastes. Did you know that a red pepper is only a green pepper that has matured for longer on the plant? Red peppers are also known to be sweeter, while green peppers are more bitter. Either way, peppers from the market in August are nearly all crisp and fresh.
Cucumbers are available at the farmer’s market in August too. Although they may not all have the same shape (or even same colour) as your typical cucumber from the grocery store, the cucumbers at the farmer’s markets are unbelievably delicious and fresh.
I use cherry tomatoes as the main tomato variation in my Greek salad. This is because they are easy to cut, not very messy, and have a sweet taste. Cherry tomatoes are also extremely plentiful at the farmer’s markets in August. I would suggest using a combination of tomatoes in your Greek salad. For example, try cherry tomatoes with pear drop tomatoes. Both small, the pear drop tomatoes are actually yellow when ripe and have a very different flavour and texture then that of the cherry tomato.
Onions are an option for your Greek salad, although some may not like their harsh taste. Yes, onions are very powerful, but they are also very flavourful and can be quite sweet. Ask a stall vendor at the farmer’s market for his or her sweetest onion, like a Walla Walla. These onions are still quite powerful, but they also have a taste of sweetness to them.
To make a Greek salad, I first cut up my vegetables from the farmer’s market in chunky bits, each large enough to be pierced by a fork. I put them all in a bowl and then I use my hands to crumble some feta cheese on top of the vegetables. I then top that with a little fresh cracked black pepper to add some spice. Finally, I rip up a little of the “king of herbs”, basil, that I cultivate from my backyard garden. If you do not have a garden, basil will surely be available at the farmer’s market. I sprinkle the basil on top of everything in my bowl.
I use only olive oil to dress my salad at this time of year. The vegetables are so fresh that I allow their flavours to dominate the dish without the use of a heavy dressing. Olive oil is a nice touch, but, if you want a stronger dressing, feel free to use a salad dressing of your choice bought from the grocery store or try an artisan dressing from your farmer’s market.