When most people think of summer, barbecues, and side dishes, I would bet anything they think of potato salad and pasta salad. Well, nothing against those kids (except mayo - I HATE mayo - I do have something against mayo...Find my winning mayoless potato salad here), but this is now the very first salad that comes to my mind when I think of a summer barbecue. I made this salad almost once every week two summers ago. I would come up with excuses to make this salad. If you don't like any of the ingredients on the list, omit them and increase some of the things you do like. This is a very flexible salad. Whatever you do, don't omit the pickled red onions. As much as I love red onion, sometimes I'll order items that have it and then ask for it to be left off because it can be too much for me. The pickling step makes the onion a little bit sweet and much less harsh. That (thank you again, Deb Perelman) is in fact the best thing about this salad. It's what takes this salad from ordinary to extraordinary and is the reason it ends up on my table so very much - I just can't get enough of it and neither can the friend's that I've served it to.
Mediterranean Pepper Salad
from Smitten Kitchen
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 a red onion, cut into a 1/2-inch dice (use less if your onion is huge)
3 bell peppers, your choice of colors (but I don't ever use green for this salad)
1 kirby cucumber
1/4-pound firm feta cheese (I use reduced fat)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (although I completely forgot to put them in this time)
1/2 cup pitted kalmata olives
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Swish together the red wine vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar in a small bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the red onion and set it aside.
Meanwhile, core and seed the bell peppers and chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the cucumber and feta into similarly-sized chunks. Put your peppers, cucumber, feta and olives in a large bowl.
By now, your onions will have lightly pickled. Drain them, reserving the vinegar mixture, and add them to the other vegetables in the large bowl. Pour a quarter cup of the vinegar mixture over the salad, then drizzle with olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste. Toss evenly and serve, or let the flavors muddle together in the fridge for a few hours.