MEET THE CHEF

Irini Tzortzoglou is a Cretan chef, food author, olive oil & honey sommelier, and culinary professor who splits her time between Greece and the UK. After flying through the competition in 2019 on the cusp of the pandemic, Tzortzoglou didn’t let it derail her success, going on to publish her Mediterranean cookbook Under the Olive Tree, opened her cook away culinary school in Crete, and has hosted and judged a plethora of prestigious culinary competitions across the UK and Europe.

MEET THE CHEF

Irini Tzortzoglou is a Cretan chef, food author, olive oil & honey sommelier, and culinary professor who splits her time between Greece and the UK. After flying through the competition in 2019 on the cusp of the pandemic, Tzortzoglou didn’t let it derail her success, going on to publish her Mediterranean cookbook Under the Olive Tree, opened her cook away culinary school in Crete, and has hosted and judged a plethora of prestigious culinary competitions across the UK and Europe.

Today Irini is bringing us a European classic: the much-loved yet oft-adulterated Greek salad. The key to nailing it through the Tzortzoglou lens? Firstly you need good, unrefined, fruity olive oil *ideally from Greece*, second to that – leave your tomatoes out for a couple of days at room temperature to ripen - you want your tomatoes as juicy as possible. Irini’s offering will give us a crash course in gourmet plating, showing us how to elevate a humble salad into an edible art with the finesse of a true MasterChef winner.

MAKE THE DISH

Today Irini is bringing us a European classic: the much-loved yet oft-adulterated Greek salad. The key to nailing it through the Tzortzoglou lens? Firstly you need good, unrefined, fruity olive oil *ideally from Greece*, second to that – leave your tomatoes out for a couple of days at room temperature to ripen - you want your tomatoes as juicy as possible. Irini’s offering will give us a crash course in gourmet plating, showing us how to elevate a humble salad into an edible art with the finesse of a true MasterChef winner.

SERVINGS

4 as a salad, 2 as a main

PREP TIME

15 minutes

COOK TIME

none

EQUIPMENT

Large Plate, Chef's Knife, 2 Bowls, Immersion Blender, Piping Bag, Mandolin

INGREDIENTS

2-3 ripe red tomatoes on the vine
A small handful of small mixed colour heritage tomatoes
½ cucumber
½ small red onion, peeled, sliced and cut into small cubes
1  handful kalamata olives without stones
2 anchovies
extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp small capers in brine
½ lemon, zest only
75g feta cheese
75g greek yogurt
red wine vinegar to taste
a few fresh thyme or basil leaves
dakos or other croutons
dried oregano
a pinch of salt flakes

DIRECTIONS

Step 1

Wash, trim, and slice the vine tomatoes. Wash and cut the heritage tomatoes into quarters. Lay out the slices on a wide flat plate in the shape of a wreath. Fill the center with the quartered heritage tomatoes.

Step 2

Put a handful of Kalamata olives in a bowl or jug with the capers, anchovies, 2 tbsp olive oil, and the zest of half a lemon. Use the immersion blender to blitz to a smooth paste and transfer to a piping bag.

Step 3

In another bowl, using the same (cleaned) blender mix 75g of feta cheese with 75g of Greek yogurt to a paste. Transfer to another piping bag.

Step 4

Cut the red onion in brunoise style (very small dice) and rub with some salt between your hands for a few minutes. Leave in a small colander for a few minutes for the salt to draw out all the heat and excess moisture from the onion. Finish by adding a drop of vinegar to flavor it. Dot the brunoise onion in small mounds around the plate as you see fit.

Step 5

Use a mandolin to slice the cucumber in long strips. Roll each thin cucumber slice around your index finger and place it on the plate around the tomatoes in ribbon-like formations.

Step 6

Dress the tomatoes onions and cucumber by drizzling with some extra virgin olive oil. Spray with some red wine vinegar and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. Add the dakos to the salad.

Step 7

Pipe dots of the olive tapenade and the feta cream stylistically around the plate (be creative!). Finish with some dried oregano and fresh basil or thyme leaves.

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