(Note: this post was originally published on August 18, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
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 late summer's best produce.
To be honest, this idea 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 one Saturday morning and went a little bit crazy. There were gorgeous baby peppers, tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, and the cutest baby eggplants (called "fairy tale" 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 ingredients 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 for a pop of brightness.
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. There's really no right way to do this, but if you want a salad with lots of visual intrigue, try to get as many shapes, sizes, and textures as you can. For example, you can leave some small tomatoes whole, cut others in half, and cut the biggest ones into slices. Similarly, cut some of your cucumbers into slices and leave a couple cut in half, lengthwise.
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.
This salad is really more of a concept than a specific recipe, so feel free to change it up in whatever way works best for you. Salads are really my favorite blank canvas, so please have fun with this one! The options are endless.
Some ways you can change it up? Omit the cheese and add avocado instead for a vegan version. Add salty marcona almonds for a delightful crunch. Put some grilled romaine, fresh arugula, or chewy farro underneath. Add your favorite grilled protein or some big dollops of hummus on top to make it a meal. Go a bit sweeter with melon or grilled peaches.
If you're looking for a more traditional feel, you can certainly treat this like a chopped salad. Just chop everything up into similarly-sized pieces and toss it together.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
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. It's a gorgeous centerpiece salad for entertaining, and so practical because everyone can take exactly what they want.
My biggest tip? Hit up the farmers market in August and go wild! In New England, the August farmers markets are exploding with colorful and crazy-looking heirloom tomatoes, eggplants of all shapes and sizes, cool-looking purple peppers, and unfamiliar melons. This salad is best the evening of a farmers market run, when everything is wonderfully fresh.
Have fun with this one! It has fulfilled all my wildest salad dreams this summer, and I hope it will fulfill yours too.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
A celebration of summer, this Mediterranean salad features a rainbow of grilled and raw veggies and a zippy Greek-inspired vinaigrette. Take this concept and customize it however you like!