Greek Salad with Homemade Dressing and The Style Gathering

Delicious Greek Salad

I’ve been on a quest for the perfect Greek salad for some time.

For those of you who read my previous post on grilled Greek pizza, you know that authentic, homemade Greek dressing is the start to many an amazing dish. Little did I know the importance of nailing the dressing until I spent time with my friend Buffy from The Style Gathering and she introduced me to her version– the one she learned from her college roommate after celebrating Greek Easter with her family- and it’s fantastic. Also, I realized, this was the missing link to my authentic Greek salad conundrum.


The perfect dressing
Topping beautiful Greek salad with Tina Liollio’s dressing

As opposed to the iceberg-heavy, dressing-soaked red onion fest that is some restaurants’ version, taking matters into your own hands with this recipe allows for a level of ingredient control that is much needed to make your salad amazing.

One of my first memories of an American Greek salad is at Zoes Kitchen. This was years ago, in the heart of the South, and my middle school palette was immediately intrigued at the notion of a salad missing the title “Tossed.” Upon digging into the mammoth mound of sliced vegetables, light green lettuce, black olives and (gasp) squares of Feta cheese, my fork hit something soft: potatoes. There were potatoes at the bottom of my salad. A delicious, tiny mound of roasted red potato vinaigrette underneath the stack of sheared iceberg.  It was a glorious, and odd, discovery. I wanted more.

Greek Salad beginnings

After further research, I realized that in the States, everyone does their Greek salad a bit differently. In Detroit, for example, they like to add beets to their plates. Tampa Bay does it Zoe’s style by piling their ingredients onto potato salad.

Beautiful French feta

But our version, I think we got it just right. For one, Buffy introduced me to French feta cheese. Ok, I thought I knew feta. I loved feta. But feta could get beta :) This feta, here, is rich, light and crumbly, and oh-so-addictive. A mandoline made my job of slicing the red onions less painful. And the absence of lettuce is for a reason. I think that the best, most authentic Greek salad is chunky; full of red, ripe tomatoes, lots of fresh cucumber and a mix of both green and black olives. Toss those together, drizzle dressing on top, and add a few sprigs of fresh basil. Perfection.

Easy Greek Salad

Easy Greek Salad (With all of the beautiful photos by J Hagler Photography)

What You Will Need:

  • 4 to 5 Ugly Ripe tomatoes, halved and quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced into rings
  • 1 medium-to-large cucumber, sliced (If you want to get fancy, you can alternately peel strips of the skin off with a vegetable peeler to make them appear striped before you slice them.)
  • 1 block French feta cheese
  • Homemade Greek dressing, for tossing
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

What You Will Do:

1. In a large bowl, toss all of the vegetables together.

2. Crumble as much Feta cheese as desired on top of salad. Drizzle with Greek dressing, to taste, and top with torn basil leaves. Enjoy salad bliss!

Grilled Greek Pizza with Steak and The Style Gathering

Grilled Greek Pizza with Steak

It all starts with the dressing.

Homemade Greek Dressing

Greek dressing. The kind of dressing that carries you through college, graduation, work, marriage- with flavors that at the same time comfort and excite and brighten. The dressing that you use on everything that tastes great to make it taste even better. The dressing everyone asks for but it’s exact measurements are felt in your hands, measured by your palms, and known only after a finger dipped in the blender tells you where it stands.

Today I am honored and thrilled to share with you the dressing; the one that Buffy at The Style Gathering has known for years. Just click on those links and you will find her incredible recipe. And y‘all– I am part Greek (my grandfather’s name is Dionysus) and I can envision my great ancestors now, applauding and cheering Buffy and I on as we used this dressing to marinate, drizzle, and accent some amazing spring dishes that we are excited to share with you this week.

Buffy and I in the kitchen

For those of you who may not know Buffy (above left), she is not only beautiful, she is talented. Her blog is a treasure of Southern style-beautiful clothes, food, travel, more yummy food, and entertaining ideas- and she is the resident expert on all things lovely. Her eye for beauty and design is refreshing to be around and I absolutely loved being in the kitchen with her.

Rolling out the pizza dough
Rolling out the pizza dough

Also, needless to say, her incredible photographer Jennifer Hagler did great work on making our food look as incredible as it does.

Grilled Pizza

For this post, we landed on using her dressing to do two things- marinate a flank steak, and top a grilled pizza. Like the dressing, spring is upon us and with it comes awakening flavors and new vegetables. Which leads us of course to grilled Greek pizza, topped with her dressing and our beautiful pan grilled steak.

Pan seared steak


Pan Grilled Steak

Also, to be fair, I am no grilling expert. My relationship with the grill resembles very closely that of a small child rewarded with a bag of Skittles every three days. When it works- bliss! When it doesn’t, a time of sulking and an emotional low known only to my husband, takes its place. However, with this pizza- and this flank steak- I have tried to create the easiest-to-follow instructions possible to help even the flame-challenged among us achieve grilling success.*

Cue the grilling montage:

Pizza Dough on Grill
Oiled pizza goes on the grill…


Pizza Dough Flips on Grill
The all important flip occurs…


The flipped side is put back on the grill…


Pizza Starts on Grill
Toppings are placed on the dough…


Buffy adds more toppings
Buffy skillfully adds more toppings…


Collaborating on Grill Time
We check to make sure the pizza feels done…



Grilled Pizza
And voila! Grilling success!


Also, if you want to do the pizza sans-dairy, Buffy and I thought that it would be amazing do do a grilled dough topped with dressing and veggies. Yummy. If you try this method, please bring us leftovers.

Pizza Drizzled with Dressing

Alright everyone- bust out the shorts (stylish and blush, of course), turn on the grill, and start blending up a fabulous batch of dressing. It’s sure to put a spring in your step this week.

Grilled Pizza with Flank Steak and flowers

Marinated, Grilled Flank Steak (with tips on grilling from The Pioneer Woman)

What You Will Need:

  • 2-3 lbs flank steak
  • 1 cup (or more, depending on size of steak) homemade Greek dressing
  • olive oil  (for drizzling)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grill pan

What You Will Do

1. Put your flank steak into a large plastic bag. Pour in dressing, and swirl around in the bag until it covers all of the meat. Let marinate in fridge for at least four hours.

2. Drizzle grill pan with enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan. Heat grill pan on high heat (for about two to three minutes).

3. Remove steak from marinade, and place on the grill pan horizontally. Grill for two minutes. If you want to get fancy, you can turn your steak at a 45 degree angle (I learned this from the Pioneer Woman) and grill for about a minute or two more, to get those fancy grill marks.

4. Turn the steak over and grill for three to four minutes more (or two minutes, plus 45 degree rotation time), or until the steak reaches 145 degrees (you can also do the finger test if you don’t want to bother with a meat thermometer. #juiceslost)

5. Let the steak rest for at least five minutes before you slice. This keeps it so juicy.

Grilled Pizza with Marinated Flank Steak

Grilled Greek Pizza with Homemade Dressing

What You Will Need:

  • 1 lb Publix (or any other brand) pre-made pizza dough, standing at room temp for one hour
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Olive oil, at least 1 tablespoon (or more) for drizzling
  • Grilled flank steak
  • Veggies (for topping): red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, red onion, black olives,  artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes
  • Feta cheese, crumbled; mozzarella cheese (Cut into circles and/or shredded if you desire. I like the combination of both!)***
  • Greek dressing, for drizzling

What You Will Do

  1. Preheat grill to about 300 degrees. Now, every grill is different. So, if your grill becomes too hot during this process, turn the heat down and open the lid. If it is too cool, turn the heat up and close the lid.**
  2. Assemble your ingredients. It is key when grilling pizza that you have all of your ingredients in place because the grilling process happens very quickly! So, chop those veggies (if desired), put the cheese into bowls, and get the Greek dressing ready to drizzle. I like to put all of my ingredients onto a jelly roll pan to stay organized.
  3. Lightly flour a wooden surface. Roll your dough into a large circle with your palms (you can also half this dough if you like to make two smaller pizzas), then flatten into a disc. Lightly dust surface of pizza disc with more flour, then, using a rolling pin, roll out into about a 12 to 13 inch circle. The dough should feel stretchy and at a similar thickness to what you see when those fancy Italian men throw the dough towards the ceiling.
  4.  Take your now assembled pizza dough and ingredients out to the grill.
  5. Brush one side of the pizza dough with olive oil. Place that side directly onto the grill and cook for two to three minutes with the lid off. Check the underside of the dough as you grill. It should begin to firm and you should see grill marks forming.* Once those grill marks form and the dough is firm, flip with a large spatula.
  6. Drizzle top with olive oil, then add meat, toppings and cheese. Go light on the toppings; too heavy and your pizza will sink a bit. Grill for an additional three minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the dough fills firm.
  7. Let rest for one or two minutes, then add a drizzle of dressing, and slice! Enjoy your hard-earned Greek goodness.

 To be noted:

*I once disintegrated a chicken on the grill. Literally, it’s legs burned beyond a crisp into charcoal dust. Yet it was still on fire. It’s demise may have had something to do with the fact that I set the grill to 500 then left it on for at least thirty minutes:)

**As I experienced, if grill marks are forming too quickly and your crust is burning, go ahead and flip the dough over (so it doesn’t burn) and top with ingredients. You can finish that one off in the oven. Turn down the heat on your grill, and try again. Like I said, every grill is different and takes a while to adjust to!

***Dairy-free option: If you want to go sans cheese on this, I suggest replacing the olive oil drizzle on the flipped pizza side with a good drizzle of Greek dressing. Add veggies, and cook until desired doneness:)



Pecan Praline Balsamic Roasted Carrots


Y’all, our very first Luv Cooks video debuts today!! See the full recipe here:

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As a kid, I hated carrots. There weren’t many things in life I wouldn’t eat (I’ve been a bottomless pit since I was three), but my memories of carrots were either of the raw variety, zip-locked into my school lunch bag in order to balance the Oreos, or boiled until mushy and piled onto a spoon at my church’s Wednesday night suppers.

Needless to say, neither was appealing to my growing palette (which also preferred Nutter Butters over actual peanut butter, and a fruit roll-up to  fruit).

But as my cooking progressed, I learned that you can’t always take a vegetable at face value. Sometimes a cooking method transforms the slight flavor of a raw orange stick to something ethereal- even addictive. Especially when swathed in The Oil and Vinegar Cellars’ Pecan Praline aged balsamic vinegar, roasted to a deep sweetness, then topped with chopped pecans. Delightful.

Carrots are also amazing for you. They have tons of antioxidants, and eating lots of carrots could help protect against unhealthy levels of cholesterol. Consumption of carrots can also help to ease stomach issues, and they are killer for your immune system!

So in the midst of this dreary, cold weather, pull out some carrots, roast those babies, hope for Spring, and enjoy a deliciously sweet vegetable surprise.

Roasted Pecan Praline Carrots 1-034

Pecan Praline Balsamic Roasted Carrots

This take on a traditional roasted carrot brings out the beautiful sweetness of carrots via aged pecan praline (or your favorite balsamic) vinegar by allowing the carrots to caramelize a bit in their juices. Crunchy pecans on top bring a rich texture into the mix.

What You Will Need:

  • 1 16-ounce bag baby carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pecan praline aged balsamic vinegar*, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • fennel fronds, for garnish

What You Will Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray.
  3. Toss your baby carrots in a large bowl with olive oil. Add the balsamic vinegar, and stir together until the carrots are evenly coated.
  4. Pour carrots and their balsamic glaze onto the roasting pan and make sure they are spread out evenly in a single layer.
  5. Roast the carrots in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Toss carrots with chopped pecans, drizzle with another light layer of balsamic vinegar (about 1/2 tablespoon). Stir the carrots together once more, making sure the carrots and pecans are evenly covered with balsamic.
  7. Add a light sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  8. Put the carrots back into the oven to roast for five minutes. Once done, top with fennel fronds if you like. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

*I love Taelor’s pecan praline vinegar, but any specialty or high-quality balsamic vinegar would be delicious.

Roasted Pecan Praline Carrots