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Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

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This is indisputably one of the prettiest and nicest salad combinations ever to feature on the same plate. The sweet succulence of the tomatoes, the sour saltiness of the cheese, the clean peppery taste of the parsley, the sharp bite of the raw onion and the dark complexity of the olives all come together to make a perfect lunch dish that needs only warm pitta breads as an accompaniment.

The tomatoes are cut into chunks and the onion into bite-sized pieces, for this is essentially a peasant dish and should not have anything effete about it, like neat slices or tiny dice. When dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil, it will sing to you about holidays in Greece. Indeed, it may be the only thing you ate in Greece that you could conceivably imagine wanting to hear sing, but that is just carping.

At the risk of stating the obvious, it is very important to have perfect ripe tomatoes. Your average domestic salad tomato is not for inclusion in any of these recipes. The quality of Feta is a variable thing too; if you have a Greek delicatessen near to you, buy the cheese and parsley there. They will probably have been imported from Cyprus and will be delicious.

This is one of the few dishes in the book which emulates and does not redefine. If it is not broken, do not fix it — and there is nothing you can do to add to its charms.


  • 12 ripe plum tomatoes
  • 225 g/½ lb Feta cheese
  • 1 red onion
  • 12 Kalamata black olives
  • 20-30 leaves of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper



Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise, then across into 3, giving you 6 chunks from each tomato.

Cut the Feta into 2 cm/½ in cubes and distribute evenly on top.

Peel the onion and cut in half, then across into half circles. Cut these into 2.5 cm/1 in strips and scatter over.

Strew the olives on top. Push the parsley leaves in between the tomatoes, so they stick up.

Dress first with the juice from the lemon, then the olive oil. Season liberally with sea salt and black pepper.


Eat at as soon as possible with warm pitta. Play bazouki music and put on your tape of cicada scratching. If feeling masochistic, drink a glass of retsina. If determined to be authentic, then a white Demestica will hit the Aegean spot. If you are like most people, drink whatever is to hand.

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