One note: That bottle of olive oil that's been next to your stove or on your counter for the better part of a year, should be cast out. More than likely, the oil is off flavor, possibly rancid and maybe just down right bland.
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The initial cost of good, quality olive oil might seem less than frugal, but you'll use less oil to get the same flavor.
I suggest you head to your local market and look for some really good oil, especially some from the United States.
In today's market, you can easily find oil that hails from the West Coast, and I recently found several varieties from the California Olive Ranch.
For this recipe I am using Arbequina, which adds a delicious fruitiness that finishes with a clean taste.
The fruitiness smells like a freshly cut tomato and really adds some nice flavor to this simple country salad.
Scott C. Anderson is associate food service director and chef with Shepherd University dining services in Shepherds-town, W.Va., and Chef Ambassador to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Rustic country salad
3 heirloom tomatoes, washed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 red onion, peeled and cut into bit sized pieces
2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into chunks
8 ounces feta cheese (See cook's note)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives
1/2 Spanish Queen olives
1/4 cup Arbequina olive oil
Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste
4 sprigs fresh oregano
Wash vegetables before cutting. Arrange on four plates equal amounts of the tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. Cut the feta into 4 pieces and place in the center of the salad. Add olives. Grind on salt and pepper to taste and drizzle on the olive oil.
Garnish with a fresh sprig of oregano.
Makes 4 servings.
Cook's note: Chef Scott prefers Wisconsin feta.