I thought I’d give Canadian chef Matty Matheson another shot, after my very unimpressive go at his version of Tex-Mex queso and short ribs. There was just nothing very Tex-Mex about his recipe, shown lower right after I “improved” it. But in the same cookbook of his, Home Style Cookery, published in 2020, I discovered a recipe for a Greek salad using grilled and raw zucchini – a nice summer recipe, especially if you grow zucchini.
Besides the zucchini, the salad includes the usual suspects – feta, cucumbers, tomatoes, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, and capers.
Here’s an interesting note from the author regarding the recipe: “I’m a new lover of feta, and I don’t know why it took me so long, or why I considered it to be more of a diner condiment than a cheese.” (And yes, I double-checked to make sure I copied that correctly!)
What? A diner condiment? How do they serve meals up there in Canada?!! Just kidding! We’ve had many beautiful meals in British Columbia and Alberta. And they actually have fabulous pizza!
I had great expectations for this salad. What could go wrong?!
Zucchini Greek Salad
Adapted to make more sense
1 pound zucchini, half sliced 3/4” thick, half thinly sliced into ribbons on a mandoline
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 – 8 ounce block feta cheese
1/2 cup arugula, lightly wilted in some vinegar and oil
2/3 cup pepperoncini
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
1 cup unpeeled, roughly chopped cucumber
3 cherry tomatoes (I used lots!)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 teaspoons drained capers
2 teaspoon champagne vinegar (I used a red wine vinegar)
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
2 tablespoons dried oregano
Using 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, grill the zucchini ribbons on both sides, over medium heat, until charred and fork-tender. Let cool.
Place the grilled zucchini ribbons and raw slices in a medium bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the salt.
Place the feta in the center of the plate or serving platter on top of the arugula; arrange both types of zucchini around the feta. Place the pepperoncini, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, red onion, and capers around the zucchini.
Drizzle vinegar and olive oil onto the cheese and vegetables. Sprinkle with sea salt and the oregano.
Two tablespoons of dried oregano is WAY too much in my book, so I cut it back to one teaspoon.
So, with such great ingredients, why did I not love this salad? First of all, the zucchini ribbons were horribly tedious to grill, plus I didn’t love the large slices of raw zucchini. They were just too big. I would suggest roasting all of the zucchini, reasonably sliced, keeping it warm when finishing the salad.
And why in the world are there only 3 cherry tomatoes in this salad? At least make it 4 so each person can have two! As you can see I went overboard on the tomatoes – even using my new favorite baby spoon tomatoes for fun!
Instead of the block of feta, which has a crumbly texture, I would have preferred a whipped feta, perhaps mixed with ricotta and seasoned with oregano.
I was also confused about the 2/3 cup of pepperoncini. I’m used to the whole chile peppers, but there was no mention of chopping the peppers. I’d purchased a pepperoncini paste of sorts for this recipe, but then felt that 2/3 cup of the purée could be way too much – especially for 2 people/servings.
I may have to give up on Chef Matty Matheson. His recipes just don’t work for me. Plus, he swears way more than I do, which is suspect…
Other people obviously like his personality and voice. He’s acting on The Bear. Interesting.