Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Salad With Feta

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Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Tomatoes were this summer’s forbidden fruit (yes, they are fruits, not vegetables). It was just last week that the Food and Drug Administration announced that tomatoes are safe to eat again – wonderful news for those pining for the fruitiness of the heirloom, the brawn and juice of the beefsteak, or the tart edge of the cherry tomato. Even better than their wide variety of flavors, tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and lycopene, all powerful antioxidants.
Like a ripe peach, a tomato should give just slightly when pressed. It may be firmer at the shoulders, but it shouldn’t be hard, and if it has no smell, it’s probably not ripe. At the height of tomato season, be wary of soft, mushy spots.If possible, look for vine-ripened tomatoes grown on a farm near you; the flavor will far surpass that of tomatoes imported over long distances.

Summer Salad with Feta

5 medium or large ripe tomatoes cut into wedges (if large, the wedges should be cut crosswise in half), or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half

1/2 European cucumber, or 1 Persian or Japanese cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded if desired, then sliced into half circles about 1/3-inch thick.

Sea salt or fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, or 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Toss together the tomatoes, cucumber, salt, pepper, vinegar, and olive oil. Add the feta and herbs, and toss again. Taste, adjust the seasonings, and serve.


Add any or all of the ingredients below:

1/2 small red onion, sliced and rinsed with cold water

12 to 18 imported Greek black olives, such as kalamatas or amphisas

1 small green, yellow, or red bell pepper

1 heart of romaine lettuce, cut in 2-inch pieces

A handful of cubed stale bread or croutons

Advance preparation:

You can assemble the salad hours before adding the seasonings, vinegar, and olive oil. Be warned: If you salt the salad too long before serving, it will become watery, as the salt draws out juices from the vegetables.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings


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