Horiatiki Salad | Greek Village Salad | Poli Kala

If I could have dinner anywhere in the world tonight,  I would love to be back on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, where every day the sky and sea compete for who stole the show with the prettiest shade of blue that day. Rising above the glittering waters, pristine whitewashed villas and cobble stone streets dot the rocky hillsides that overlook the vast and mesmerizing caldera. Breathtaking views are matched with take-your-breath away kinds of menus that are not over the top, but refreshing in their simplicity and the use of fresh local ingredients, vegetables and seafood.

Horiatiki Salad, Greek Village salad, Mediterranean salad, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onions, bell pepper, Oia, Santorini

And for dinner tonight, I would order a traditional Horiatiki salad/ Greek Village salad made with special sweet Santorini tomatoes, roughly sliced cucumbers, green bell peppers and thinly sliced red onions; topped off with a large slab of feta cheeseKalamata olives,  a sprinkling of dried oregano and a healthy drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I think my Horiatiki salad will go well with grilled Red Snapper, a platter of grilled octopus drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon, along with a tipple of ouzo on the side, or perhaps tsikoudia over crushed ice. Poli kala! 

And if that's Greek to you, folks, poli kala means very good!

Would you like to join me? Let me set the table...ahem, I mean, scene for you...

Imagine a table for two set just a foot away from the crystal clear water of the Aegean sea. The blue and white table cloths that match the fluttering Greek flag are cleverly tethered with elastic just below the lip of the table to keep them from blowing away in the wind. The cool breeze coming off the water sends a refreshing salty spray our way, only enhanced by the occasional welcoming wave that breaks over the embankment and splashes over our feet. It's a hot evening, so we enjoy nature's way of cooling us off. 

Fisherman's Nest Ammoudi, Oia, Santorini, Greece, Tables by water
Fisherman's Nest at Ammoudi in Santorini

Vociferous gulls bob in the cove, complaining to neighbouring fishing boats and to anyone who will listen to their day's adventures and misadventures. Over here, octopi are strung out to dry just as nonchalantly as if they were clothes on a washing line. Watching the slow chain of donkeys make their way, ferrying tourists to and from the popular town of Oia up above makes anyone wonder what it would be like to move here permanently.  Poli kala!! 

Laughter of fellow diners punctuate the distinctive sounds of bouzouki music wafting through the air as the waiter sets down our Horiatiki salad. It won't be long before he brings our grilled fish and octopus that we specially chose from the seafood counter; an unbelievably idyllic experience as we watch the sun set on a sultry evening at the bottom of Oia in Ammoudi Bay.

Sunset, Firostefani, Santorini, Greece
Sunset at Firostefani!
Whether dining at tourist heavy popular spots of Oia and Ammoudi Bay or in quieter Imerovigli or Firostefani, the spectacular views are only complemented by equally appealing menu options.
Greek salad and ouzo always graced our table!

Horiatiki Greek Salad

When we visited Greece a few years ago, the Horiatiki Greek salad was an ubiquitous menu item, whether we were on the mainland or on the islands. However, Santorini locals do boast that the Horiatiki Greek Salad tastes the best in Santorini.  And that's true, solely because of the variety of tomatoes grown in Santorini. The Santorini tomatoes (tomataki Santorini)  grown on this volcanic island are a particular variety of cherry tomato that grow well in the island's local soil and weather. With the island seeing limited rainfall, the tomato plants rely on the island's high humidity and dew content to grow, giving them a distinct flavor and texture.

Don't you just love visiting a place and learning how to make one of their local dishes? Sometimes, local dishes are so complicated and difficult to replicate, but that's not the case with the Horiatiki salad. Our local Greek friend, Fotini, demonstrated how to make it and gave us a few good tips to get it right. And yes, while we won't be able to get our hands on tomataki Santorini, our local tomatoes will do just as well.

Fotini's Tips for a Poli Kala Horiatiki Greek Salad:

  1. Use the freshest of produce for the best flavors. When dishes are this simple and flavors are uncomplicated, it's important to use the freshest of ingredients.
  2. Use tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers that are at room temperature not straight out of the fridge. 
  3. Cut the tomatoes over the bowl to retain all the lovely tomato juices. I saw Fotini slice the tomatoes into wedges in the palm of her hand and then drop them into the bowl below. I'm not as good, so I'm going to rely on my cutting board instead. Nobody wants to find a finger in the salad.
  4.  For an authentic Greek salad, use good quality Greek feta cheese that comes in a block soaking in brine.  Slice off a slab of feta cheese and place it over the salad. Greek salads served in America often come topped with little cubes of feta. But, in Greece, the feta is usually not cut up but instead laid on top of the salad as a large slab. Once it arrives at the table, the host breaks up the cheese. So, don't cut up feta into small chunks when serving the salad. And definitely don't use dry feta crumbles.
  5. A simple dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil whisked together is all you need as the final touch.  

This is definitely a dish that the Greeks are proud of and want to share with the rest of the world because the souvenir shops carry postcards with the recipe for a Greek Village salad! Here's a post card that Fotini sent us from Greece for a basic Greek Village Salad, just so that I'll always have the recipe on hand to make any time I feel the need for a taste of Greece.

Recipe postcard, Horiatiki Salad, Greek Village salad, Mediterranean salad, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onions, bell pepper,

Horiatiki Salad or Greek Village Salad Recipe


☐ 2 tomatoes 
☐ 1 large cucumber
☐ 1 green bell pepper
☐ 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
☐ 1/4 red onion, sliced
☐ 1 slab of Feta cheese
☐ 1 teaspoon dried oregano
☐ Salt to taste

For the dressing:

☐ 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Olybio is a popular Greek brand readily available in the U.S.)

☐ 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (TOP Balsamiko is a popular brand used in Greece and available in the U.S.


Step 1: Chop vegetables and add to a salad bowl

  1. Chop the tomatoes into wedges.
  2. Peel the cucumber and slice it into thickish slices
  3. Chop the green bell pepper
  4. Slice the red onion
  5. Mix well.

Step 2: Top with olives, oregano and a slab of feta cheese

Step 3: Make the dressing

  1. In a little bowl, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  2. Pour over the salad and serve

Horiatiki Salad, Greek Village salad, Mediterranean salad, feta, tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onions, bell pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ouzo

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post!
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To see my other global recipes inspired by my travels, click on 'Global' below.

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