I haven’t always been a big fan of salads. Here in America salads seem to be an afterthought. Case in point, a side salad usually consists of iceberg lettuce with bad tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cheese, along with a huge amount of the dressing of your choice. To me that is not very appetizing. When I started reading books about France and learned that salads were amazing dishes – not an afterthought – I was intrigued but a little bit unbelieving.
In September 2017, Justin and I took a trip to southern France. No matter where we chose to eat the food was great. So far the great salads of France eluded me. While staying in Avignon, we decided to leave the town and visit other towns nearby. We stopped in a town called St. Remy de Provence. It was such a beautiful town. We spent hours walking around and admiring just about everything we saw. Finally it was lunch time and we spotted this busy restaurant with outside seating and luckily they had a table.
After being seated I started looking at the tables around me and I kept seeing gorgeous salads. I thought, am I finally going to eat a fabulous salad??? I ordered the Lardon salad which consisted of wonderfully cooked lardons ( cubes of fatty bacon) crispy salad greens, tomatoes, black olives, and tucked around the salad were four perfectly made warm goat cheese toasts. All of this was adorned with a wonderful dijon vinaigrette and topped with herbs de provence. Justin ordered the Salade des Alpilles. It was greens, tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, goat cheese toasts, dijon vinaigrette, herbs de provence, and had two pieces of toast spread with an olive tapenade.
Almost two years later I still remember that salad and would love to eat it again. Unfortunately I can’t get lardons where I live so I use bacon, my goat cheese toasts are never as perfect as that day. My memory will have to sustain me until I get back to France. Meanwhile, I have decided to create my own salads and I have not been disappointed.
This salad is one of my favorites – the Chicken Souvlaki Salad. I use red leaf lettuce, a really good tomato (not from a grocery store), kalamata olives, red onions, feta cheese, Greek vinaigrette, and, of course, souvlaki (Greek marinated grilled chicken). Its both delicate and filling, and makes a wonderful meal.
- 1 head Red Leaf Lettuce, sliced into large pieces
- 1 cucumber, peeled sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 ripe tomato, cut into chunks
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced in half-rounds
- 1/2 pound feta cheese, diced (buy the whole feta and cut it – its better than the pre-crumbled).
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, roughly chopped
- 1/2-1lb chicken or pork Souvlaki (recipe here)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 Tbsp cup good red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- Place all salad ingredients (minus the meat) together in a bowl.
- Place all of the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl and whisk (or, put them in a jar with a lid and shake).
- Toss salad with vinaigrette until well incorporated.
- Top with Souvlaki.
- Sprinkle a bit of Greek oregano on top (optional).
For a more decadent version, you can also top the salad with tzatziki sauce.