Traditional Greek Salad (Horiatiki)
Traditional Greek salad, or Horiatiki Salata in Greek, is one of the simplest salads around, in the very best way. Learn how to make an authentic Greek salad with Greek dressing and it will be a staple in your home forever.
The very first thing I ate in Greece was Greek salad, and I’ve loved it ever since. Found on every Greek restaurant menu, this classic recipe is one to memorize. It’s light, refreshing, flavorful, and easy to make.
There are a few Greek-inspired salads on this site already – I love this Chopped Greek Chickpea Salad, this Mediterranean Lentil Salad, and this Greek Pasta Salad. All three are perfect for meal prep or pot lucks. While those recipes are delicious, fun, and more creative, this is a simple, traditional Greek salad recipe. It would be fantastic alongside and Mediterranean Diet dish, but especially Greek Lentil Soup and Homemade Pita Chips for a spring dinner.
Horiatiki Village Salad History
This traditional Greek recipe is also known as Village Salad. According to the cookbook, The Greek Feast, by our local Santa Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, this salad originated in a small Greek country village.
The priest’s wife was informed at the last minute that her in-laws would be visiting. As she had nothing to prepare, she ran out to the garden and picked vegetables and herbs, then ran to the shepherd’s house for cheese, and to the olive grove for cured olives. Once home, she tossed all the ingredients together and horiatiki salata (traditional Greek village salad) was born!
What’s in Greek Salad?
The beauty of a traditional Greek salad is in its simplicity. The trick is to use the very best seasonal produce, and the best quality olive oil, oregano, and feta you can find.
- Tomatoes. You can fancy things up with colorful heirloom tomatoes, but Early Girl, beefsteak, or very ripe red Roma’s work well.
- Cucumber. Peel the cucumber unless using a hothouse cucumber, which doesn’t need peeling.
- Onion. Use red onion, thinly sliced.
- Olives. Kalamata olives are what you’ll want here. You can use pitted or unpitted, depending on preference. They do taste a bit different, but pitted are obviously easier to eat.
- Feta. Authentic Greek salad is a vegetarian dish, but it’s easy to make dairy-free if you’d like. For a vegan option, many people love Violife Just Like Feta. Others make homemade vegan feta using tofu. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful creamy Greek feta in brine.
Greek Salad Dressing
Many people think they need to buy a store-bought salad dressing or go to great lengths to make one with many ingredients. Traditional Greek salad dressings are very simple, however, usually requiring just a few everyday ingredients.
Greek dressings are usually made with olive oil and acid (either fresh lemon juice or red wine vinegar) in a 2:1 ratio. The oil and vinegar are seasoned with salt and pepper and any fresh or dried herbs like oregano, thyme, dill, or marjoram.
Traditional Greek Salad is dressed even more simply, with just olive oil! Horiatiki is traditionally only dressed with olive oil and seasoned with salt, though some people like to add a splash of red wine vinegar. You can find Greek olive oil at most grocery stores these days, including Trader Joe’s.
Greek Oregano vs. Oregano – What’s the difference?
With such simple ingredients, you may be wondering if there’s a difference between “regular” oregano and Greek oregano, and which is best for this village salad.
Oregano is part of the mint family, and there are many varieties, from Italian to Greek, to Turkish, to Cuban, and more. Greek oregano is has a stronger and more earthy flavor than the others, and I like to use it here. I use this Wild Oregano grown in Greece.
How to Make a Traditional Greek Village Salad
Traditional Greek Salad is so simple that after you make it once you’ll never need a recipe again. Simply cut the vegetables into large chunks, season with olive oil, oregano, and salt, and top with olives and feta.
Tips & Variations
- Add red or green bell pepper.
- For a coastal, Greek islands spin, add pickled sea fennel or capers.
- You can make the salad a few hours in advance. Top with feta just before eating, however.
- 4 large tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4" half-rounds
- 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 20 Kalamata olives (pitted or not)
- 5 oz. Greek feta cheese, cut into 4 slabs
- 1/3 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- 2-3 teaspoons dried Greek oregano
- In a large salad bowl, gently combine the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion.
- Arrange the olives and feta on top.
- Dress with olive oil, salt to taste, and oregano.
- Toss at the table and enjoy with rustic bread or pita bread. Be careful of pits if you use unpitted olives! I prefer the flavor, but they are not quite as easy to eat.
- Add 1/3 cup capers, drained
- Green or red bell pepper is sometimes added to Greek salad, but not traditionally.
- Feta can be served crumbled or in a slab on top, as pictured here. I prefer the slab, as it allows people to enjoy as much or little as they'd like.
- For a vegan option, try Violife's "Just Like Feta" or simply omit the cheese.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 338Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 4gSugar: 9gProtein: 8g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.