Loaded with flavor, loaded with texture, and loaded with nutrition, this loaded Greek salad is everything a Greek salad should be. Fresh, crunchy, salty, and tangy, this hearty salad works as a light dinner or a healthy prep-ahead lunch.
I’m going to be honest with you: I really love complicated salads. So, while I apologize in advance for the long ingredient list in this loaded Greek salad, I’m also going to try to convince you that it’s worth the effort. Of course, I'm automatically down for pretty much any excuse to use feta cheese in anything, but a tangy, refreshing, hearty Greek salad will always be my favorite.
Greek salads are typically very simple, often just a small bowl of tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and onions. They are dressed even more simply with just a bit of lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil. This Greek Salad recipe from Diane Kochilas of My Greek Table is a perfect example of a traditional Greek salad, which served as my starting point for developing this recipe. It makes a great side salad, but I wanted something heartier, crunchier, and with more nutrition.
What makes a salad “loaded?”
There’s been an explosion of “loaded” recipes on a lot of my favorite food blogs…loaded hummus, loaded guacamole, loaded baked potatoes, so I’ve given the term some thought. To my mind, “loaded” recipes are based on simple traditional recipes, but with added ingredients that provide additional flavors and textures that boost the overall heartiness of a dish.
Adding the term loaded to the name of a dish implies indulgence, such as in loaded nachos or loaded French fries. But by far my favorite application of the “loaded” recipe approach has been in healthier dishes like this loaded Greek salad. I get bored with salads really quickly, but–at least for me– the extra flavors and textures in loaded salads make them more satisfying, filling, and interesting.
How to serve this dish
- This dish is hearty enough to stand alone as a filling lunch or a light dinner.
- Serve this loaded Greek salad with grilled chicken or fish and a side of pita bread for a complete meal.
- You can also stuff this salad into a pita pocket with some grilled chicken or shrimp and eat it as a sandwich.
Ingredients and substitutions
Lettuce: Whatever variety looks crispy and fresh will work in this salad. I used the center of a head of green leaf lettuce here.
Tomato: Use the best tomatoes you can find depending on the time of year. During winter, I stick to grape tomatoes or Campari tomatoes.
Cucumber: English and Persian cucumbers are well-suited to this salad, and don’t require peeling and seeding. If you are using thicker-skinned cucumbers, peel and seed them before adding.
Red onion: These add more crunch and tang to the salad. If you are sensitive to onions, soak them in cool water for 15-20 minutes before adding.
Kalamata olives: A classic ingredient in Greek salads. I eat them a lot, so I buy the big jar at Costco!
Artichoke hearts: Marinated artichoke hearts add some tang to this salad. I get mine from the olive bar at my grocery store, but I also like these marinated artichoke hearts from Mezetta.
Pepperoncini (not pictured): Adds a bit of zippy but mild heat to this salad. Leave them out if they are too spicy for you.
Garbanzo beans: I use a low-sodium variety, and rinse them well after draining. And yes, I really do chop them! I find that allows them to mix in better with the other ingredients.
Feta cheese: The star of the show! You don’t need to buy the fancy stuff (unless you want to, imported feta is YUM!). Of the widely-available grocery store options, I prefer President’s brand feta to Atheno’s.
Mediterranean Herb Vinaigrette: My favorite vinaigrette recipe! Find it here.
FAQ: Loaded Greek salad with Mediterranean herb vinaigrette
I love adding crunch to my salads, I think it adds so much in terms of texture and satiety! But of course, gluten is a concern for a lot of folks so I understand the need for other options. My favorite option–which also happens to be super-nutritious–is tossing in some chopped walnuts. If you are willing to do a little more work, swap out the chickpeas in this salad and add these Za’atar Spiced Crispy Chickpeas from Crowded Kitchen.
Absolutely! Greek salads are traditionally dressed with a simple dressing that is made of 1 part red wine vinegar to 2 parts olive oil, whisked together with a pinch of salt. If you are short on time, a bottled vinaigrette will also work.
There are several similar cheeses that don’t have the aggressive earthy/tart flavor of feta, but will still add that salty creaminess. Look for Mizithra cheese, crumbly ricotta salata, or queso fresco.
Tips to make the perfect loaded Greek salad
Crisp your lettuce! If your lettuce isn’t perfectly crispy after washing, chop it and place it in a bowl of water with 8-10 ice cubes for 15-20 minutes. Having crispy lettuce makes a huge difference in the texture of a salad.
Watch your seasoning. In a lot of salads, the seasoning comes primarily from the dressing, but this salad is a little different. Because the feta cheese, kalamata olives, and artichoke hearts (and possibly also the chickpeas) are already pretty salty, you’ll want to use a light touch when adjusting the seasoning in your dressing.
Switch up ingredients. The fun part about loaded recipes is that they have a lot of ingredients and can be modified to suit your taste. You can add things like bell peppers or walnuts, use sundried tomatoes instead of fresh, or throw in some chopped grilled chicken to put this salad over the top.
Prep ahead and storage
The ingredients in this loaded Greek salad can be prepped up to a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. I prefer to keep the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and feta separate until I’m ready to assemble and dress the salad.
After tossing the salad, it will be safe to eat for a day or two, although the texture will obviously deteriorate once the dressing has been added.
I love hearing from you!
What’s your favorite healthy salad? How did you like this loaded Greek salad recipe? Drop me a question, a comment, or a rating and let me know...you’ll make my day! And don’t forget to save and share this recipe by pinning it to Pinterest or saving to Yummly, Whisk, or Flipboard.
Loaded Greek Salad
- ½ cup tomato diced
- ½ cup cucumber diced
- 3 tablespoons Mediterranean herb vinaigrette
- 2 cups crispy lettuce washed and chopped
- ¼ red onion diced
- ¼ cup Kalamata olives pitted and diced
- ½ cup marinated artichoke hearts diced
- ½ cup garbanzo beans drained, rinsed, and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 small handful pita chips crumbled
- 2 lemon wedges for garnish (optional)
- Add the tomatoes, and cucumbers to the bowl. Toss with the vinaigrette, then allow to marinate while you chop the remaining ingredients.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine with the seasoned vegetables. Garnish with pita chips, lemon wedges and black pepper to taste.