Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad

4 lemon cucumbers or pickling cucumbers

2 mild yellow banana peppers or Anaheim, seeded, thinly sliced

1 medium bell pepper, preferably yellow or red

1 medium red or white onion

8 oz. tomatoes, preferably plum

2 to 3 C. coarsely torn smooth spinach leaves

1-1/2 C. small cubes stale French bread

1 t. chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 T. fresh oregano or marjoram leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1/3 C. olive oil

2 dried-tomato halves, finely chopped

1/4 C. balsamic vinegar

sea salt, freshly ground pepper

12 kalamata olives, pitted, cut in pieces

1/4 C. crumbled feta cheese

If not using specialty cucumbers with thin, tender peels, partially peel a regular cucumber from the supermarket because the skin will be waxed. Leave a few very thin lengthwise strips of dark green peel intact. Cut lengthwise, scoop out and discard seedy portion. Cut crosswise into crescents.

Add mild chile peppers and small chunks of the bell pepper and onion to refrigerator container. Halve tomatoes and shake out seeds. Cut into 1/2-inch chunks and add to the cucumber mixture; cover container and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, wash and dry spinach leaves and any other greens you’re using; chill until ready to toss the salad. Prepare French bread cubes or, for a more rustic effect, tear the bread pieces.

Place rosemary, oregano and garlic in the olive oil and set aside to steep for several hours. Add dried tomato pieces to the vinegar and let stand the same period of time.

Place room-temperature vegetables in a very large salad bowl. Add spinach, bread pieces and toss with as much of the olive oil mixture as desired. Add all the sun-dried tomato pieces and as much of the vinegar as desired. Grind pepper over all and taste; sprinkle with sea salt or use a salt grinder. Taste again and adjust. Garnish the top of the salad with kalamata olive pieces and the crumbled feta and serve right away.

Makes four servings.

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