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Which is better?

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A friend of mine who is also a chef posted some pictures of a traditional Italian antipasto. It was a Caprese salad, or insalta Caprese as rightfully heralded. Although a great salad in its own right, and admired worldwide, I think I have a better one, and it's not Italian.

While working for the Brountas family here in Maine many years ago, I developed the love of Greek cuisine. Among the outstanding ingredients they use is feta cheese. It may be an acquired taste for some, but my palate instantly admired the crumbly texture of this cheese, and I think you will too.

Cretan salad

Named after the island of Crete, off the coast of Greece, this salad has the simplicity and flavor a beginning course should portray. I didn't put olives in this recipe when I made it and took the pictures, although it truly should have them. The reason? I don't care for olives, nor do my children, so why waste them?

  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red or white onion, minced
  • 1 green, red or yellow bell pepper, cored and julienned
  • Kalamata olives
  • Feta cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Salt, cracked black pepper and oregano
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 c. loosely-packed spinach leaves, stemmed and shredded
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. loose basil leaves

This recipe is enough for two good sized portions.

Preheat broiler while preparing recipe, making sure the oven rack is at least 3 inches from heat source. Divide the spinach leaves among 2 plates or shallow bowls. Lightly sprinkle tomato and feta slices with oregano, garlic, onion, salt and pepper; drizzle with oil on both sides. Place on an oven proof pan and broil for 2-3 minutes, or just until the cheese begins to soften.

Lay the tomatoes and cheese on plate with spinach, overlapping each. Sprinkle with julienned peppers, basil leaves and olives and you are good to go.

Want to make your own quick Caprese salad? All you have to do is substitute fresh mozzarella for the feta and season as directed above along with the tomatoes. Alternately, stack tomatoes with the mozzarella cheese and slip in a few leaves of fresh basil leaves. Sprinkle a bit of oregano throughout if desired.


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