Sizzling Salad Toppers

Souvlaki

Make My Salad Cold, Hot, Crunchy and Chewy

Here is an exciting way to elevate a salad into a main course dish. Place off-the-grill items – still sizzling – directly onto a plate of dressed greens. The heat will wilt the upper greens and brand them with grilled flavor. Have a basket of bread or pita to tear and sop up the remains. It’s way more than a salad!

My favorite version is souvlaki, the Greek sandwich of grilled meats served with a salad. This recipe is not served inside a pita, but is an Americanized adaptation popular in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. It is ordered as an “open souvlaki,” the meat is grilled and placed atop the salad with pita served on the side.

This is comfort in so many ways. You can adapt this with any style of salad and grilling.

SHOPPING:
This recipe becomes a main course salad, great anytime of year. Substitute strips of marinated zucchini, eggplant, or portobello mushrooms in place of meat. Use boneless filets that will be easy to slice while atop the salad. Bone-in meat is too thick and heavy to create the balance with the greens.
As for meat, boneless chicken is my choice: either tenderloins, or breast cut into thick strips. Pork tenderloin, or flank or skirt steak is also delicious.

RECIPE: Serves 3-4

MARINADE/DRESSING: This is a classic Greek salad dressing

lemon, 1, to include 1 tsp. zest and 2 TBS. juice
red wine vinegar, 2 TBS.
garlic, fresh, 1 clove, minced or pressed
salt, 1/2 tsp.
pepper, 1/8 tsp.
*mayonnaise, 1 tsp.
olive oil, extra virgin, 3/4 cup
oregano, 2 tsp., fresh if possible, minced, or 1 tsp. dried, Greek variety if possible

GRILLABLES: Figure on 1/3 to a 1/2 pound per diner

SALAD
salad mix of choice, about 6-8 cups
cucumbers, sliced
tomatoes, chopped
feta cheese, crumbled, 1/2 cup
olives, Kalamata, pitted, 1/4 cup
peperoncini (mild, pickled peppers), 1/4 cup

INSTRUCTIONS:
Make the dressing/marinade
Zest and squeeze juice then place in a screw top jar. Add the vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and repeat shaking.

*Mayonnaise is a fabulous emulsifier. It will keep your dressing creamy and help cling to your grillables and lettuces.

PREPARE THE GRILLABLES

VEGGIES: Cut veggies into 1/4-inch slabs, keep mushrooms whole. Brush with marinade about 10 minutes or so before grilling.

MEAT: Cut into long strips, about 2 inches wide. Season the meat generously with salt. Brush with marinade and refrigerate for an hour or up to 4 hours. Alternately, pour marinade into sealable bag and add meat, squeeze out air and refrigerate.

MAKE THE SALAD

I prefer to serve family style and display the salad composed on a serving platter. It makes for a grand entrance treat to your diners!

Here’s how: Lay the salad mix on the platter. Arrange the tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, peppers, and feta cheese atop the greens. Season the salad with salt and pepper. Keep chilled until ready to serve. Prepare the grill.

Note: the feta cheese is salty in itself.

Begin to grill. meanwhile drizzle the dressing lightly about the salad.
When the vegetables and meat are done, have the salad right next to the grill. Lay the grilled items sizzling atop the salad.

Serve with pita or bread and extra dressing on the side.

ALTERNATE OPTIONS: Use a prepared dressing already on hand-Caesar’s, or traditional vinaigrette are nice choices. Consider using fajita or taco, or blackening seasoning as a dry rub marinade for the grilled items. It adds a spicy, contrasting flavor punch to the creamy dressing. Go play with your food!

MASTERY EN PLACE: Grill Topped Serendipity at the Magic Kingdom

While at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom my friend and I were craving a lunch of salad with a little punch of grilled veggies. We asked the server if there was a chance we could get some grilled zucchini atop our salad. She left for a minute only to return with a cook, who was excited to please us. Out came a lovely mound of dressed greens with slabs of heavily grill-marked zucchini. It made our day! Even the diners along the delivery path were impressed! It was MUCH more than a salad, for the cost of a few grilled slices of vegetable.

The biggest disappointment in ordering souvlaki out is it is rarely served with fresh dressing. Out comes a cruet of oil with dried herbs resting at the bottom. Not on my fresh salad! Making dressing is easy and elevates home meals with just a drizzle.

IN•CITE

“The person who first put a grain of salt on a lettuce leaf and then dipped it in a mixture of wine vinegar and olive oil was one of the few true benefactors of mankind.” – Ernest Lorsy

© Bill Hettig, billhettig@mac.com

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