Greek lettuce salad, Maroulosalata in Greek, is the king of Mediterranean salads because it embodies the essence of the Mediterranean way of eating: Freshness, wholesomeness, and balance. This delightful salad showcases the harmony of crisp lettuce, aromatic dill, and a simple tangy dressing, making it the perfect side for any meal all year round.
WHAT IS MAROULOSALATA?
Greek lettuce salad is called “Maroulosalata” in Greek (another long word to pronounce but easy enough if you read carefully each of the 6 syllables ma-rou-lo-sa-la-ta). We have a pretty strong opinion about the ingredients of this salad.
Apart from the lettuce which is the basic ingredient, it seems that spring onions-dill is the winning combo. Olive oil with lemon or vinegar is just poured into the salad without any kind of preparation. That’s it! No more ingredients. When you visit Greece you will find that the majority of taverns serve this kind of salad.
Quite frankly, it may seem a bland salad recipe for some of you and, maybe it is if you compare it to a rich coleslaw or Caesar’s salad with tons of mayonnaise sauce and croutons and bacon, etc. But you miss the point here. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Maroulosalata is all about simplicity and freshness.
Because the motto that stands for Mediterranean Greek salads is “Less is more”. Not to mention that it screams “I’m the salad that keeps those taste buds and waistlines happy!”
WHY TO MAKE MAROULOSALATA?
The Mediterranean way of eating is renowned for its health benefits. Just a quick reminder that for the sixth year in a row (2018-2023), the Mediterranean diet earned the title of best overall diet, according to 2023 ratings by U.S. News & World Report.
Maroulosalata is a prime example of the Mediterranean dietary pattern, emphasizing fresh, whole ingredients. It’s a celebration of plant-based, nutrient-rich foods that contribute to a long and healthy life.
The health aspect of the recipe is pretty much covered so, now, let’s explore more reasons to go buy lettuce and make this salad.
Vibrant flavor: Maroulosalata bursts with vibrant, herbaceous flavors, thanks to a medley of fresh ingredients.
Quick and Easy: It’s a breeze to prepare, making it a go-to choice for busy weeknights or larger gatherings. Prep-friendly, too (see below).
It’s for everybody: Plant-based ingredients make this salad a favorite dish for everyone accommodating a range of dietary preferences. Your vegan friends will be so happy indulging in a salad so delicious.
Versatility: You can serve it alongside various Mediterranean and Greek dishes, from grilled meats and seafood to other traditional favorites. To tell you the truth, I cannot think of a better salad that complements a wide range of main dishes. (See details below)
Multiple variations/additions: It goes with everything. Even though the traditional version is simple enough, you may add cheese, deli meat, more herbs, and greens. The list is quite long.
INGREDIENT SHOPPING LIST
To begin with, find below the ingredients for the traditional Greek lettuce salad (maroulosalata). If you like, go to the following section and find more ideas and combos for lettuce salads inspired by seasons.
The traditional Greek recipe contains the following ingredients:
Lettuce: While traditional Maroulosalata uses romaine or iceberg lettuce, you can experiment with other types for added flavor and texture.
Fresh dill: Dill is a must for maroulosalata. It’s the only herb if you want to keep it simple and stick to the traditional version. In case you don’t like dill, experiment with mint and/or parsley.
Green onion: Even though it is a vegetable, it plays on both sides of the fence because the green part is used in a manner similar to herbs for flavoring. Essential ingredient, don’t skip it.
Extra virgin olive oil: Always present in every dish. For maroulosalata you should use the best quality of extra virgin olive oil you can purchase. It is the basic ingredient that either enhances or makes the salad bland, even bad.
Lemon juice: For the traditional version, lemon seems to be the winner of the eternal battle between “lemon-vinegar for maroulosalata”. A clever way to avoid this battle is to add olive oil and serve fresh lemon juice and vinegar aside for individual serving.
If you ask me, I vote for lemon dressing all the way. Follow my instructions for a creamy lemon dressing, so simple that it takes no more than 1 minute to make it.
Olives: This is a personal preference/addition even though you find often olives in maroulosalata in taverns and restaurants. At least in Greece.
Salt: I usually skip salt. Especially when the olive oil’s taste is so enticing that the salad is complete even without salt. It’s up to you.
SUBSTITUTIONS & VARIATIONS FOR MAROULOSALATA
As already mentioned above, Greeks have a pretty strong opinion about the ingredients for this salad. Lettuce-onion spring-dill-olive oil-lemon or vinegar. That’s it! If you add other ingredients, it isn’t the traditional maroulosalata. It’s a lettuce salad with Mediterranean ingredients. Equally yummy but not the Greek traditional version.
So, as a humble blogger (that’s me), I must adhere to the traditional context and regretfully inform you that there won’t be any substitutions or variations for Maroulosalata recipe. (Happy, grandma?)
Meaning, no feta cheese addition, no nuts, no other kind of herbs like parsley, or mint, and no vinaigrette-mustard-honey dressings!
However, if you are by nature a restless spirit, a kind of “rebel without a cause” like me, I feel you, guys! Let’s resist traditional norms and make our own revolution. Let’s add olives! Are you with me?
SEASONAL LETTUCE SALAD COMBOS
I wouldn’t leave you without inspiration for more scrumptious lettuce salads. Of course, I would strongly advise you to make maroulosalata at least once in your life because I am 100% sure that it will be a keeper salad like in the majority of Greek homes.
Nevertheless, I am here to inspire you with more amazing lettuce salad combos. With the variations below, you can enjoy lettuce salad all year round while embracing the flavors of each season and the freshness of the produce.
Spring lettuce salad
Add asparagus: Blanched or grilled asparagus adds a crisp and fresh touch. Crumpled feta cheese goes so well with asparagus but it is totally optional if you want to keep your lettuce salad vegan. I would recommend the lemon-olive oil-oregano dressing that you find in this post. Sprinkle fresh chopped basil and mint for extra flavor.
Incorporate radishes and/or arugula: Thinly sliced radishes provide a peppery crunch. Keep the post’s olive oil-lemon dressing and add fresh chopped parsley. It pairs well with radishes and arugula.
Top with strawberries: Sliced strawberries bring sweetness and color. Make a balsamic vinegar and stir in just an idea of honey. Include some finely chopped fresh basil.
Use almonds-raisins: Toasted or raw almonds offer a delightful nuttiness. I like adding raisins too for sweetness and tossing in some fresh oregano leaves into this salad. Balsamic vinegar is perfect for this combo.
Summer lettuce salad
Summer Greek lettuce salad: tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, fresh oregano, and Greek vinaigrette dressing.
Strawberry spinach and goat cheese: baby spinach, fresh strawberries, red onion, goat cheese, pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Mediterranean Quinoa: cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, feta cheese crumbles, fresh mint, and lemon-olive oil dressing.
Grilled chicken “Caesar salad”: grilled chicken breast, homemade croutons, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil-tahini- lemon juice-ground garlic dressing.
Watermelon and feta: watermelon cubes, feta cheese, fresh mint, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Caprese: fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic glaze.
Fall lettuce salad
Butternut squash and goat cheese: roasted butternut squash, walnuts, toasted or raw almonds, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Pear and gorgonzola: sliced ripe pears, fresh figs, Gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, and a honey-mustard-vinaigrette dressing.
Apple and Brussels sprouts: shredded Brussels sprouts, apple slices, raisins, prosciutto, and a lemon-mustard dressing.
Beet and goat cheese: roasted beets, crumbled goat cheese, walnuts, and a balsamic reduction.
Sweet potato and quinoa: roasted sweet potato cubes, cooked quinoa, corn, and a lemon-olive oil dressing.
Mushroom and feta cheese: sautéed mushrooms, crumbled feta cheese, walnuts, and a honey-vinaigrette dressing.
Winter lettuce salad
Citrus and pomegranate: sliced oranges and grapefruits, pomegranate arils, toasted almonds, and a citrus vinaigrette dressing.
Winter vegetables: roasted winter vegetables (carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts), crumbled feta cheese, and balsamic-mustard dressing.
Winter Spinach and raisins: baby spinach, dried figs, sliced red onions, crumbled blue or feta cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Butternut squash and walnuts: roasted butternut squash cubes, walnuts, raisins, and a honey-mustard dressing.
Mushroom and prosciutto: sautéed mushrooms, prosciutto, and feta cheese with balsamic vinaigrette.
Brussels sprouts and prosciutto: shredded Brussels sprouts, prosciutto, toasted almonds, grated Parmesan cheese, and a lemon-tahini dressing.
Those salads incorporate seasonal ingredients to create a delightful combination of flavors and textures perfect all year long. Feel free to customize the ingredients and dressings to suit your preferences.
Before diving into the recipe, ensure your lettuce, spring onion, and dill are thoroughly washed and dried. Preferably wash lettuce leaves under cold water to remain crisp. Then use paper towels to dry everything.
Use a cutting board to chop all the ingredients as finely as you like and transfer them straight into the salad bowl. If you want to serve your salad in a few hours, I would recommend covering the bowl with food wrap and placing it into the fridge. When ready to serve, toss in the lemon dressing and top with olives.
Even though the lemon dressing takes literally 1 minute to make, you may make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Just shake or toss well before assembling.
Storage of chopped veggies
The actual freshness and shelf life of the vegetables may vary depending on several factors, including the initial quality and freshness of the vegetables, the efficiency of moisture removal, and the temperature and humidity levels in your refrigerator.
In many cases, properly storing chopped vegetables in an airtight container with moisture-absorbing paper towels can help maintain their freshness for up to 2-3 days. Still, it’s advisable to check the vegetables for any signs of wilting or spoilage before use and use your best judgment to determine their suitability for consumption.
If the vegetables show signs of deterioration (such as browning, wilting, or an off odor), it’s best to discard them to ensure food safety.
THE RECIPE STEP-BY-STEP
Honestly, it is so easy that this is hardly a recipe. To put it simply, take a cutting board, and knife and start chopping.
STEP #1: Prepare the ingredients
Wash the lettuce under tap water (preferably cold), and then pat the leaves dry on both sides thoroughly before chopping. Chop the lettuce, dill, and green onions as finely as you want.
STEP #2: Whisk the Dressing
In a jar, stir in extra virgin olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Shake well to combine the ingredients. A smooth, creamy lemon dressing is ready in less than a minute (more or less).
STEP #3: Combine and toss
Place the chopped vegetables in a salad bowl. Top with olives (optional). Drizzle the dressing over the salad. Toss gently to coat the ingredients evenly.
Don’t overdress the salad; use just enough dressing to coat the ingredients lightly.
Serve your maroulosalata immediately after preparation to maintain its freshness and crispness.
Challenge your guests to pronounce the word “maroulosalata” and serve only those who say it right! Just kidding. But it could be fun.
MY MAROULOSALATA IS READY! NOW, WHAT?
Enjoy your refreshing Maroulosalata as a side dish, especially to grilled meats, fish, and seafood, or as a standalone salad. Its simplicity complements various Mediterranean Greek dishes.
I really cannot think of a dish that cannot be served with maroulosalata. It goes with everything and satisfies everyone. If I may suggest my favorite combos I would definitely go for grilled meat and fish. Lean protein, freshly grilled right out of the oven or the BBQ with a generous amount of maroulosalata is THE ABSOLUTE joy for taste buds. It is a way to cool down the intense grilled flavor in the most delicious manner.
In Greece, we often place maroulosalata as an ideal accompaniment to fatty meat meals because it enhances digestion and leaves you feeling satisfied, not overly full. That’s precisely why it’s a frequent choice for Easter festive table, often placed alongside the lamb dish.
Apart from grilled meat and fish/seafood, I would serve it with this traditional lamb dish called kleftiko, papoutsakia (stuffed eggplant recipe), the famous moussaka and this beef pasta dish called pastitsada.
WHAT ABOUT LEFTOVERS?
Maroulosalata is best enjoyed fresh due to its crisp nature. However, if you do have leftovers, try to consume them within a couple of hours to enjoy the best taste and texture.
As soon as salt, olive oil, and lemon touch the lettuce the texture and freshness start compromising fast. Then a soggy and unpleasant taste predominates, resulting in a dark green, unappetizing mass.
Under no condition should you store, freeze/reheat maroulosalata.
MORE MEDITERRANEAN GREEK SALAD RECIPES
Each recipe brings the flavors of the Mediterranean to your kitchen. To begin with, try Greek salad, this cucumber salad, and this unique eggplant salad for the summer. Then in the winter go for this traditional cabbage salad (politiki) and my favorite beetroot salad.
If you make my recipe, you have to let me know! I absolutely love your feedback. This is a huge motivation for me and it keeps 30daysofgreekfood’s kitchen alive. Bookmark this recipe and leave your rate and comment below, or take a photo with your Maroulosalata and tag me on Instagram with #30daysofgreekfood and Facebook with @30daysofgreekfood.
Greek Lettuce Salad – Maroulosalata
For the salad
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce*, thinly sliced
- 4-5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
- 8-10 olives (optional)
- Salt to taste
For the lemon dressing
- 1 large lemon, the juice
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the veggies
- Wash the lettuce under cold water, and then pat the leaves dry on both sides thoroughly before chopping. Chop the lettuce, dill, and spring onions as finely as you want.
- Follow the same procedure for dill and spring onions.
- Add all chopped ingredients to a large serving bowl. Salt to taste (optional).
Make the dressing
- In a jar, stir in the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Shake well to combine the ingredients. A smooth, creamy lemon dressing is ready in less than a minute.
Assemble the salad & serve
- Just before serving, give the jar containing the dressing one more quick shake and pour it all over the salad. Top with the olives (optional).
- Serve immediately. Use a pair of tongs and toss gently to coat the ingredients evenly before serving your first guest.