They say you are what you eat. If that’s the case, then in the summer months we are villagers. When garden tomatoes have ripened, we use them to make, and eat, delicious Greek salad, also called a horiatiki salata (horio means village in Greek). We eat this salad every day. Not almost every day…but every, single, day. And we never tire of it.
It would be next to impossible to tire of a salad so full of flavour and amazing texture. For us, Greek salad or horiatiki salata is a gift of summer; easy to prepare, filling, deliciously fragrant and healthy. In fact, the only down side is that we live in a country where local, vine-ripened tomatoes are not readily available year round.
When we were teenagers, and decided that we knew everything, we would get into heated discussions with our parents over this salad. We had heard that when a knife is used to cut lettuce, as was the case in our parents’ kitchen, there is a chance that lettuce cell boundaries will be damaged. For reasons we never really understood, this resulted in sub-par lettuce leaves. Because of this, we explained to our parents that lettuce had to be torn, by hand, into large, bite-sized pieces; this was necessary to preserve its integrity. It was also the way most of our non-Greek friends ate their salad, and frankly, we wanted to be a little like them. Our parents gave the hand-torn lettuce a try (once), and quickly deemed the non-uniform, large-ish pieces of green, to be too cumbersome to eat. Back to the cutting board.
Perhaps you remember reading that black-eyed peas with spinach is one of our absolute favourite meals. It’s true, and that, of course, meant that our parents would make it often; they still do, and now we do too! Over the years, being the efficient cooks that they are, they learned that if they soaked and boiled extra black-eyed peas (more beans = same amount of time and effort as fewer beans), they could use them in different recipes. It was black-eyed pea surplus that led them to whip together this salad.