Looking to capture the essence of Greece while dining al fresco this unofficial first weekend of summer? Visiting Calissa, Water Mill’s Mediterranean Mecca, is one way to get your fix of Mykonos.
“Calissa’s summertime menu is built for groups enjoying a celebratory, communal meal together from our large-format entrees to our wide selection of large format wines,” says chef Bob Abrams. “Sharing a variety of dishes and drinks is the best way to experience our restaurant.” Think: Canary Islands branzino, suckling pig and lobster pasta among the shareable options.
Those who prefer a smaller gathering at home can still get their Greek on with this recipe for Calissa’s classic tomato salad topped with imported feta and capers.
“This is a very simple salad, so quality of ingredients is very important,” reiterates Abrams, who uses sheep and goat’s milk feta, beechwood barrel-aged in brine and imported from Arahova, Greece.
“We love this brand because it has a savory, tangy character and is the perfect consistency for this salad — not too soft, not too hard.”
As we eagerly await the East End’s tomato season to begin, in the meantime stick with tomatoes on the vine or greenhouse-grown varieties, good olives and imported feta (Citarella is a one-stop shop for the latter), and definitely don’t skimp on the olive oil. Calissa uses Iliada EVOO, which is available online, or why not try an imported variety available at the informal gourmet market at Southampton’s Greek Orthodox Church.
Have some oregano in your garden? Give your kitchen a Greek vibe by gathering a few pieces together in a bunch at the stem and using some twine to tie them together. Hang these bundles from a hook in a warm place inside that gets direct sunlight. Your oregano should be dry and ready to store in about two to six weeks — hopefully by the time the tomatoes are in season!
Although light and delicious on its own, Abrams encourages us to keep the meal going, as they would in Greece. “This salad is a great accompaniment to lamb chops or a simply grilled piece of local fish.” Opa!
Calissa’s Greek salad
- 3 Persian cucumbers, sliced 1/2-inch thick on the bias
- 2 large tomatoes (preferably in-season), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 green pepper, julienned
- 1/2 cup red onion, sliced and soaked in water
- 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
- 1/2 cup Greek red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup high-quality Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp dried Greek oregano
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 slice Greek feta, 1-inch thick
- sea salt to taste