Inspired from the traditional Lesbos winter salad as I adapted it from the recipe in my book The Foods of the Greek Islands. Greek Salad is seasonal here; in the summer tomatoes are its basic ingredient but in the winter it is definitely green.
Greek Salad is seasonal here; in the summer tomatoes are its basic ingredient, but in the winter it is definitely green. From the first October rains up until the end of April, the greengrocers of Mytilini, the capital of Lesbos, used to sell each head of romaine lettuce tied together with two or three sprigs of borage (often with its little blue flowers), two or three scallions, several sprigs of peppery arugula, four or five sprigs of dill or fennel fronds, a few sprigs of peppery wild cress and either fresh mint or a little wild celery. Once home, these essential ingredients for the local green winter salad are thinly sliced and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.
It’s important to cut the greens at the last moment and to slice them very thin. If they are coarsely cut, the salad will taste different.
Makes 4 servings
3–4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2–3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small head romaine lettuce, cored and leaves separated
1 bunch arugula, trimmed and finely chopped
3–4 sprigs watercress, finely chopped
3 scallions (white and most of the green parts), thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
3–4 sprigs fresh mint, tough stems removed, thinly sliced
3–4 sprigs borage, coarsely chopped (optional; see Note)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and very finely chopped or grated
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
3-4 kumquat thinly sliced (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and plenty of pepper. Set aside.
Stack half the lettuce leaves, roll them up and cut crosswise into thin slices. Repeat with the remaining lettuce leaves. In a large bowl, combine the lettuce and other greens, scallions, dill, mint, borage (if using) and fennel.
Whisk the dressing again and pour it over the salad. Add salt to taste, toss, and sprinkle with the pine nuts and/or kumquat, if using.