The first time I ate a tomato feta salad, at the home of a cosmopolitan, well-traveled friend, I assumed the bright flavors took effort. I thought the salad was out of my reach. I could not have been more wrong.
The core of this salad amounts to four ingredients: dead-ripe summer tomatoes, feta cheese, balsamic vinegar, and salt. No measuring is needed, and no peeling or seeding is required. This is a three-minute salad.
Then one can add in, or add on. Olive oil, black pepper, torn basil leaves, fennel fronds, fresh summer corn kernels (roasted, grilled, or raw), finely chopped chives, thinly sliced raw sweet onion, grilled or roasted onion rings, red pepper flakes, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro, and more.
My personal favorite version adds two ingredients: a dollop of olive oil, and a heavy grating of fresh black pepper.
If you like specific measurements and guidelines, use these to get started:
Wash, core, chop into tablespoon-sized chunks, and put in a medium size bowl: 3 pounds sweet, fully ripe summer tomatoes. Three pounds will be about two giant pink Brandywine or other heirloom types, or four-five mid-sized round tomatoes. Mixed colors are nice.
Crumble into the bowl: 2 ounces good feta, or more, or less, depending on your taste
Add: 1 Tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon sea salt
Stir together. Taste. Adjust the seasonings, and add any additional vegetables or aromatic seasonings you want to try. Sit down with a bowl and spoon -- this salad is juicy -- and enjoy.
Tips on each key ingredient:
This salad is a good as the quality of its basic ingredients.
- Tomatoes: Use completely ripe, flavorful varieties from your garden or local farmers' market. Heirloom pink and yellow types work well in this salad because their natural sweetness contrasts beautifully with the feta's salty bite.
- Feta: Make your own, or use locally made cheese like Bluegrass Chevre's delicious goat milk feta, or buy good quality organic feta.
- Salt: Crunchy Celtic Gray Sea Salt crystals add texture; any good sea salt works well.
- Balsamic Vinegar: I like Cavalli Balsamic Seasoning, which is fairly sweet. Many other balsamic vinegars will work beautifully here.