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Old 03-13-2006, 07:25 PM   #1
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In need of improvement... Greek salad

Hey guys! :D I was wondering if you could share some of your culinary expertise with me.

I'd been preparing a salad for the FHA-HERO regional competitions. It's a greek salad that I'd been practicing for months. I won first place (yay!) but now I'm going to state competitions and we have to use the same salad. We can still add or subtract ingrediants to our recipes, so I was wondering if you guys could help me decide what I can do to make it better. (I really want to place at state!)

Currently I have a pretty basic salad recipe that consists of
-romaine lettuce
-red onion
-sliced black olives
-orange, yellow, and red bell peppers
-feta cheese

The vinaigrette I'm making consists of
-olive oil
-red wine vinegar
-onion powder
-dijon mustard

I was thinking I could probably add some hauss avacado and some sundried tomatoes. Please give me some critique!!

Currently, for garnishing, I have it on a glass blue plate with the skin of a red onion crescent (kind of like the shape of a 'C') and an olive holding it in place at the top of the salad, and brunoise bell peppers kind of sprayed around. It looks a little like:

except a little more three dimensional...

Please tell me what you think will make it better!

(I really hope other fha salad prep people aren't around here...)



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Old 03-13-2006, 08:12 PM   #2
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Sounds great and congratulations.

My first thought is if it ain't broke don't fix it, particularly if you don't have a lot of time to play with it. But then again you know what you are doing, have never been in a competition.

One idea, that might or not work at all, is to substitute or add some real ripe olives, Greek type, e.g. Kalamata, for the black olives (I guess you mean the Lindsey canned type onions). Or mix 50/50.

For the dressing might want to consider adding some finely minced shallots for the onion powder, might give it a little bit of crunch and I love shallots.

A bit of another green in addition to the lettuce you are using might give it a more complex taste.

You asked for ideas, but you are the expert. Just bouncing off ideas here. Truly wish you luck in the competition.

God bless.

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Old 03-13-2006, 08:43 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for the ideas! :D I'll be sure to try them out, and I'm not really an expert. Regionals was my first competition and it was only for my high school gourmet class (requred to get an A), although I must say I'm pretty good at knife skills. =] (for someone my age at least)

do you think that maybe spinach could be good as well?

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Old 03-13-2006, 09:54 PM   #4
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It sounds good they way you have it listed, but you could always add some garbonzo beans and keep with the Greek theme thing. I like lemon juice rather than vinegar, but that's just my personal taste. I also make a "Greek" salad using alot of the things you listed plus some orzo pasta and parsley.

I think the spinach would be ok, but I like the crisp lettuce with the other stuff you've listed.
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:02 AM   #5
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At this point the key seems to me the freshness and quality of each ingredients. Try not to cut any corners in this aspect... especially a good quality evoo makes a world of difference to salad dressing. Since you are doing a greek salad, try and see if you can find one from Greece. Also for herbs (oregano and basil) use the fresh leaves, instead of the dried one. I like the idea of auntdot about shallot in place of onion powder.
Also, you must remember the dressing is meant to enhance the flavour of the salad, not to overpower. How much dijon you are using? It seems to me, though I may be wrong and this could be a surprise twist, a bit of overload... have you tried one without?
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Old 03-14-2006, 09:56 AM   #6
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I love Greek salad, it's one of those things I could eat every day.
I'd go with Zipfisch' s idea and use lemon juice instead of the vinegar. I think the combination of lemon juice and feta is just the best! And the big difference can be in the type and quality of the feta cheese you use. Try some different ones, I personally love the very fat, smooth feta for my Greek salad. It seems to give more flavour to the salad than the crumbly type.
And maybe scallions instead of onion powder?
When I was in Greece, the Greek salads were made with only a few ingredients, but very good ones. They used kalamata olives, wonderful sun-ripened tomatoes, the sweetest bell pepper I ever tasted, peeled cucumber, red onion or scallions and loads of a very smooth, fat feta cheese. The dressing was never more than olive oil and lemon juice with salt & pepper.
I think it might be hard to get ingredients with the same kind of quality this season, but maybe where's you're from that's different.

Good luck!
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:28 AM   #7
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I'm in agreement with using kalamata instead of black olives. Could you also make a little olive tapanade and maybe some little 'pita points' to set on the side of the plate?
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:42 AM   #8
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You already took first place in the regional competition so I would not mess with success too much. I agree with urmaniac that the freshness and quality of your ingredients is a good thing to focus on. Are you using spices spices from the supermaket that might not be as flavorful as spices from a spice market? Look at things like that to make your award winning salad even better.

If you really are looking to change something though I agree with the others who mentioned kalamata olives.
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Old 03-14-2006, 10:59 AM   #9
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every greek salad that i've ever had was topped with stuffed grape leaves and anchovies.
i also agree about kalamata, and the toasted pita points is a great idea.
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beidh ar la linn.
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Old 03-14-2006, 01:55 PM   #10
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Is the competition being judged more by presentation or taste, 50/50 scoring, etc.?

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