There are two schools of thought as to what makes the perfect summer tomato salad. There's the minimalist approach, as seen in this lovely recipe, letting ripe tomatoes stand on their own with nothing more than a touch of oil and balsamic. This is very good indeed. But there is another approach that is just as good.
This is the full-on maximalist tomato salad: tossed gloriously with red pepper, feta, dill, cucumber, and olives. Both are beautiful, both are delicious, but we're going maximal today.
The first time I made this salad, it was at dinner with Emma, and we both agreed that this was one of the best examples of this sort of juicy, crunchy, savory Mediterranean salad we'd ever had. It might have had something to do with the mix of vegetables, or the quantity of savory red onion, or the liberal use of feta cheese.
Regardless, this one is a keeper. All the proportions are just right, and the look is so bright and beautiful, you can bet I'll be taking the maximalist approach at least once or twice this summer.
This recipe originally came to us from Michael Symon, who created it as part of a pairing for Pilsner Urquell. (You can see another recipe from his menu here, a remarkably good and easy pasta: Linguini with Heirloom Tomato, Capers, Anchovies and Chilies.)
I've adapted this tomato salad since first making it, trimming away some of the fussier chef aspects and cutting down on the oil, which was originally a little too generous for my taste. But the credit for this recipe should still go to Symon; it's a glorious and over-the-top summer tomato salad, with brilliant color and a new mix of flavors in every bite. — Faith, August 2014
Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta
1/2 red onion
1 pound tomatoes, about 2 large, 1 red and 1 orange
1 clove garlic
Flaky sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 pound cucumber (approximately 1/3 cucumber), thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Finely slice the red onion and put the slices in a bowl of cold water while cutting up the rest of the vegetables, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Drain the onion and pat dry.
Place the garlic, a pinch of salt, and the vinegar into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.
Add the red onion, red pepper, cucumber, olives, and herbs and let marinate for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and feta, and toss gently to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lift out of the bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving juices behind. Place on a large platter and serve immediately.
This recipe has been updated from a recipe originally published June 2009.
(Image credits: Faith Durand)