Loaded Mediterranean Salad

I want to introduce you to my latest salad masterpiece: this super eclectic, somewhat deconstructed, oh-so-pretty Loaded Mediterranean Salad. Inspired by Italy and Greece, this big platter of veggie goodness celebrates all of summer's best produce.

To be honest, this started off as more of a classic Greek salad: cucumber, tomato, and feta, with a thyme vinaigrette. But then I went to the farmers' market and got a little bit crazy. There were gorgeous baby peppers, tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, and the cutest baby eggplants. I had also acquired a bunch of (non-local) figs that needed a home.

So then I had a conundrum. Was it a Greek salad? An Italian salad? I eventually settled upon a fusion of the two, and the Loaded Mediterranean Salad was born.

This epic salad is full of goodness from across the Mediterranean region including tons of gorgeous veggies, figs, feta, parmesan, and a zingy mustard-based Greek-style dressing with a bunch of sumac and fresh thyme. To make the textures and flavors more interesting, I grilled some of the veggies and left some raw, and also pickled some shallots.

This salad is definitely a diverse and exciting one with such a variety. No boring salads allowed here!

As you'll see in the photos, I couldn't bear to dice up all my gorgeous veggies, so I left some of the baby ones simply cut in half. But you can absolutely do what makes you happy here; lay it all out on a big platter like I did, or chop and toss for a more traditional salad feel.

And within the realm of doing what makes you happy, tweak as you see fit! Omit the cheese and add avocado instead for a vegan version. Add salty marcona almonds for a delightful crunch. Put some grilled romaine underneath. Add your favorite grilled protein on top to make it a meal, or some rolls of cured meat to really embrace the Mediterranean vibe. Go a bit sweeter with melon or grilled peaches.

I've made this salad numerous times since the original and have done it a little bit differently every time; it's really a blank canvas. But it's a gorgeous centerpiece salad for entertaining, and so practical because everyone can take exactly what they want.

One final tip about this Loaded Salad: marinated feta! Just take your feta, dice it up, and marinate it overnight in some olive oi, lemon zest, and black pepper. It brings such complexity to the feta, and hardly takes any extra hands-on time. I like to toss it in some sumac at the end to give it exciting color and a bright, lemony taste.

Have fun with this one! It has fulfilled all my wildest salad dreams this summer, and I hope it will fulfill yours too.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

Loving the idea of a massive centerpiece salad? Then take a look at this Somewhere Over The Rainbow Pasta Salad, which is a stunner!

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

For the Salad
  • Block of feta. Definitely local if you can! My Vermont favorites are Maple Brook and Doe's Leap. Go for the fresh, whole block, not the crumbled/packaged variety, which often contains additives to prevent the crumbles from sticking to each other.
  • Tbsp of good olive oil
  • Zest of a lemon (save the juice for the dressing, below)
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • A couple baby eggplants
  • A lot of fun, differently-shaped, differently-colored tomatoes
  • Cucumbers. Either a few baby ones if you can find them (they're so cute!), or a big English one.
  • Baby bell peppers
  • Handful of fresh figs
  • Wedge of parmesan. Again, go for the whole wedge! It's way more flavorful than the packaged, pre-shaved stuff.
  • Pickled red onion or shallot. It's so easy to do your own quick-pickling, and there are lots of good tutorials on the web. This is something I almost always keep in the fridge for topping salads and tacos.
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Tsp or two of sumac. My new favorite spice, it's amazing. Buy it and use it on everything! It tastes like lemon, but a bit more floral.
For the Dressing
  • 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp coarse-grain mustard. Learn to make your own here!
  • Dash or more of honey
  • Olive oil, optional. I only add a tiny bit of oil to my dressings since I really like the vinegar bite. If you're less of a vinegar lover, add more oil to tame the flavor.
  • Salt and pepper
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Optional but highly recommended: the day before you plan to serve this salad, marinate the feta. Cut your feta into bite-sized cubes and put it into a resealable container. Add olive oil, lemon zest, and black pepper. Close the container, give it all a delicate shake, and let it sit in the fridge overnight or as long as a couple days.
  2. At least an hour before you plan to serve the salad, do any veggie grilling you want. This should definitely include the baby eggplants, and could also include some/all of the peppers and maybe even some of the tomatoes. Make sure to let any grilled items cool completely (in the fridge is best) so that they don't wilt your fresh items. 
  3. While your grilled items are chilling, prep the dressing. Give all the ingredients a thorough whisk, taste, and adjust as needed.
  4. Prep your remaining fruits and veggies however you see fit. You can give them all a good dice for a chopped salad feel, or leave some in pretty halves or quarters.
  5. Lay your veggies out on a serving platter, mixing the grilled items in with the raw.
  6. Take your feta (regardless of whether you marinated it or not) and drain off any excess moisture. Toss the feta cubes in a tsp of sumac.
  7. Top your salad creation with feta cubes, shaved parmesan, pickled shallots or red onion, thyme leaves, and a good sprinkling of sumac.
  8. I recommend serving the dressing on the side so that people can add what they wish (and it makes leftovers easier to store as well). But you can toss or drizzle if that's your preference.


Please follow The Rogue Brussel Sprout on Instagram!