Cherry Tomato Salad

My spider mite battle has been going fairly well…I haven’t yet sent them into extinction like I want to, but I seem to be holding them in check, at least.  This is terrific news because I hate them it’s allowed my cherry tomato plants to really flourish.  I’ve been picking about four pounds of tomatoes from the two plants every week.  It’s glorious.  Have you ever had a Sungold cherry tomato?  They are small and bright orange and the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.

For BK and myself to eat four pounds of tomatoes a week, it requires some creativity.  This recipe is great because it uses a lot of tomatoes, plus it really lets  their taste shine through.   And although it’s a bit more involved than one would think it would be for a simple salad, it’s worth it!  Very simple ingredients highlight the tomatoes’ sweetness for a great side dish to any meal.   And I totally agree with Annie that, although I love love love kalamata olives, they would over-power the tomatoes in this recipe, so I left them out as well.

Ingredients:

2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch chunks
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

Directions:

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.

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, via The Way the Cookie Crumbles and Annie’s Eats.

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