Portuguese Salad: Perfect for Summer
This is hardly a recipe, rather more a beautiful idea. If you order grilled meat in a Portuguese restaurant you will often find this salad is served as an accompaniment. Whether through accident or design, its freshness and simplicity act as the perfect foil for grilled meat. You will find bad examples, but when good quality ingredients are used it is wonderful. The secret is the dried oregano that is liberally sprinkled over the top. It acts to enhance the fresh and juicy nature of the vegetables, bringing the whole salad to life, making it instantly summery.
One word of warning – the oregano I have used is readily available at markets in Spain and Portugal. It is very different to the type found in British shops. So it is an essential ingredient. However, any oregano bought still on the stalk will be equally as good. Serves 4.
Recipe for Portuguese Salad
1 head of lettuce with soft/crunchy bright green leaves. You can use something like a butter lettuce or romaine. Washed and torn into large pieces.
Tomato – in Portugal you will often be given a large beef tomato that has been peeled and sliced thickly. Any tomato will do, as long as it is very good quality.
1/2 of a small sweet white onion, finely sliced into half moons. If you cannot find a sweet onion use a red onion.
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1-2tsp dried Portuguese oregano
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Prepare this salad as late as possible before serving to keep everything fresh and crunchy.
Arrange the lettuce on a large oval platter or in a roomy salad bowl. Lay out the tomato and onion evenly over the lettuce. pile the carrot into the middle of the bowl. Liberally sprinkle with the oregano then some salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the vinegar over the salad. Then sprinkle over the oil. Now toss the salad gently.
Alternatively you can whisk the oil and vinegar in a separate bowl, pour it over the carrot and then toss this through with the rest of the salad. I tend to make the dressing separately as this means the salad tastes even throughout, however, in Portugal they would add the vinegar and oil separately.
You may not need all the dressing, but it keeps well in the refrigerator.