Friday, April 13, 2012

Cherry Tomato Salad

This is one of my all-time favorite summer salads. It's simple, healthy and incredibly flavorful. I'm constantly resisting the temptation to make it throughout the year when tomatoes aren't in season, and this weekend, I finally gave in. But don't follow my bad example. Wait until you can get pints of perfect juicy cherry or grape tomatoes from the farmers' market. The end product is well worth the wait, I promise.

Tomatoes are the star here, with just a little salt and sugar throw in to enhance their natural flavor. The other ingredients complement the tomatoes without overpowering them, allowing their bright acidity to really shine through. Crunchy cucumber provides texture, feta gives it a little tang, red wine vinegar gives it some extra acidity and parsley adds a peppery freshness.

This is the perfect dish to bring to a picnic. Or, if you're staying at home, pair it with some grilled chicken or shrimp, for a light, refreshing summer dinner. It tastes great (maybe even better) on the second day, after the tomatoes have had a night to marinate. So brown bag it for a tasty lunch on day 2.

Bon appetit!

Cherry Tomato Salad
Serves 4-6
2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups) or 2 pints ripe grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced (both curly or flat leaf will work)

Combine the tomatoes, salt and sugar in a medium bowl; toss to combine.  Let stand for 30 minutes.

Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and gently shake to remove the excess seeds and liquid from the tomato mixture. Remove the plastic wrap and without letting the tomatoes fall out of the bowl, strain the tomato liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. 

Combine ½ cup of the tomato liquid with the garlic, oregano, shallot and vinegar in a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Simmer until the mixture is reduced, about 6-8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.  Whisk in the oil, and season with pepper to taste.

Add the cucumber, feta, dressing and parsley to the bowl with the tomatoes.  Toss gently and serve.

Source: Annie's Eats

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