I always love it when I expect a recipe to be great, but it still manages to exceed my already high expectations. This dish was sure to be a winner. Ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes with crisp cucumbers and crumbled feta cheese – all things I love, and commonly known as ingredients that “go” together. I mainly made this just as an alternative side dish to the usual green salad that we have so often. I actually loved it so much, it outshone the main dish that I served it with. It was equally delicious as leftovers the next day. The original recipe calls for kalamata olives, but I omitted them. I like olives in some contexts, but in this case I was happy to let the fresh produce shine through and not be overpowered by the strong, briny flavor of olives. Simple, healthy and bursting with flavor, this salad is welcome at my table any day and will surely be making many reappearances on our menu.
- 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)*
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground black pepper
- 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch chunks
- 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
- 1-2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
*Halved grape tomatoes would also work
Combine the tomatoes, salt and sugar in a medium bowl; toss to combine. Let stand for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a salad spinner and spin until the seeds and excess liquid have been removed, about 1 minute. Stir to redistribute the tomatoes during spinning as needed. Return the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside. (If you don’t have a salad spinner, put the tomatoes in a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and gently shake the bowl to remove the excess seeds and liquid.) 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.