cherry tomato salad

Here are two common pairings that seem impractical to me – bread served with pasta and fries served with burgers. Of course they’re tasty combinations – who doesn’t love more carbs? – but do they make nutritional sense?

Granted, a leafy green salad would be too refined, and roasted or steamed vegetables don’t go with the casual feel of a burger. That’s why I love a non-lettuce based salad to go along with burgers, instead starring something like mushrooms or peppers or tomatoes.

Even though my little desert town has perfect grilling weather nearly year-round, it does not have perfect tomatoes. That’s a nice thing about this salad – you can make it with grape tomatoes, the only decent tomato option at the grocery store for most of the year.

What’s more, the tomato flavor is enhanced by draining the watery juice from the tomatoes and reducing it to use with the dressing. The dressing ends up somewhat sweet, which is nicely balanced by tart red wine vinegar, fresh cucumber (I can’t believe I used to not like cucumber), and salty feta. I’d take this salad over fries any day.

One year ago: Lemon Poppy Seed Waffles
Two years ago: Whole Wheat Pasta with Greens, Beans, Tomatoes, and Garlic Chips

Printer Friendly Recipe
Greek Cherry Tomato Salad (from Cooks Illustrated)

If in-season cherry tomatoes are unavailable, substitute vine-ripened cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes from the supermarket. Cut grape tomatoes in half along the equator rather than quartering them.

If you don’t have a salad spinner, after the salted tomatoes have stood for 30 minutes, wrap the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and gently shake to remove seeds and excess liquid. Strain the liquid and proceed with the recipe as directed.

The amount of liquid given off by the tomatoes will depend on their ripeness. If you have less than ½ cup of juice after spinning, proceed with the recipe using the entire amount of juice and reduce it to 3 tablespoons as directed.

2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups) (see note)
table salt
½ teaspoon sugar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into ½-inch dice
½ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Toss tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt, and sugar in a medium bowl; let stand for 30 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a salad spinner and spin until the seeds and excess liquid have been removed, 45 to 60 seconds, stirring to redistribute the tomatoes several times during spinning. Return the tomatoes to the bowl and set aside. Strain the tomato liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.

2. Bring ½ cup tomato liquid (discard any extra), the garlic, oregano, shallot, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the mixture is reduced to 3 tablespoons, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the oil and pepper to taste until combined. Taste and season with up to ⅛ teaspoon table salt.

3. Add the cucumber, olives, feta, dressing, and parsley to the bowl with the tomatoes; toss gently and serve.


  1. I’m pretty sure I have this recipe saved somewhere, but seeing it here makes me want it right now! It looks delicious. Did you omit the olives? I’m not the biggest fan and just cannot make myself like kalamatas, so I may skip them.

  2. I’m with Annie – I’ll skip the olives but this looks awesome! Any idea how it holds up after a day or two in the fridge? I’m the only one at my house who’d eat it so it’d definitely last for more than one meal.

    Super jealous of your year-round grilling weather 🙂

  3. bridget says:

    Annie – Yup, I skipped the olives. Dave hates them.

    Tracey – I’m pretty sure it holds up well in the fridge (I think I gave the leftovers to Dave though). I would let it warm up a bit from the fridge before eating.

  4. Mmm this is one of my favorites too. I agree, it is the perfect side for grilling.

  5. Any ideas for getting the most juice out if you don’t have a salad spinner? This looks delicious!

  6. bridget says:

    Jen – Check the second recipe note between the recipe title and the beginning of the ingredients. It addresses what to do without a salad spinner.

  7. This will be on my menu this week! The first time I tried kalamata olives I was not a fan, way to strong. But…I find if I chop them up in small pieces I like the flavor.

  8. Bethann says:

    This will be perfect with the grilled leg of lamb I’m doing tonight. I was wondering how much oil to use to make the dressing. I didn’t see an amount listed.

  9. treewhisperer says:

    way to go on the images! perfect lighting! 🙂

  10. hehehe. Sometimes I feel like the only crazy who doesn’t believe in always serving bread + pasta together! I love light veggie salads like this too.

  11. This looks delicious. I love tomatoes!

  12. bridget says:

    Bethann – So sorry about that! I updated the ingredient list to include the oil.

  13. How pretty, it looks just like, well, Spring. And there is not one ingredient in it that I wouldn’t love.

  14. Delicious! Thanks for the tip on how to get the juice out, I’m going to try this soon

  15. YUM! I linked to you in my Friday Favorites this week!

  16. I made this salad the other night, minus the olives and fresh parsley. It was delicious — thank you!

  17. Bakul says:

    I made this yesterday night minus olives. Substituting parsley with coriander and shallots with simple white onions. Being in India, not all ingredients are easily available.
    Still awesome…And love it more for that!