The crumbled hard rusks steeped in the juices of the chopped tomatoes and the spicy aromatic olive oil sauce acquire a superb flavor and texture. Lighter biscuits get mushy. Prepare the salad 1-3 hours in advance, but toss just before serving.
Paximadi Salad can be a full summer lunch, perfect for pick nicks at the beach. I make it in a large container and serve it under the beach ombrella in our attractive re-usable plastic pick nick bowls. The chunky salad can be eaten with a spoon or fork, and we often enjoy it sipping the crisp fruity white or rose wine that we take to the beach in a cooler.
4 cups paximadia in bite-size pieces, preferably to MANNA (see NOTE)
2 pounds summer ripe and firm tomatoes that have not been refrigerated (big or small, any color or a combination of different heirloom tomatoes)
1 white onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1 cup purslane leaves (optional) or arugula
½ cup basil leaves torn to pieces with the fingers, or coarsely chopped tender flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of parsley and fresh oregano or thyme
2 ½ cups diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon dry Greek oregano
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more
2-3 pickled peperoncini or chilies, minced
Zest of 1 non-treated lemon (optional)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste (optional)
Spread the paximadia at the bottom of a salad bowl or container. Using a good serrated knife cut the tomatoes to roughly 1 1/2 –inch pieces over the paximadia, to collect the juices. Arrange the onion rings and purslane, if using, over the tomatoes, sprinkle the capers and basil, or other herbs, over the onions. Top with the feta and sprinkle with the oregano.
In a bowl whisk together the vinegar and olive oil, add the chilies, lemon zest, if using, add a few pepper groundings and some salt –capers and feta are quite salty so you may not need extra.
Cover and let stand for 1 hour, in a cool place. I don’t like to refrigerate it, but you probably need to, if you won’t eat it within the hour and the weather is hot. Toss thoroughly the last minute and serve in bowls. locust
- To break the hard paximadia into pieces wrap in a clean tea towel and beat with a pestle or rolling pin. Add the pieces and crumbs to the salad.
- You can substitute stale whole-wheat sour-dough or any other heavy chewy bread for the paximadia. Cut into thick slices, dice and toast in the oven to dry.