This is the time of year when waiting for the fresh, juicy, perfect Jersey tomatoes gets really hard. It’s not so bad in the dead of winter when you know they are months away. But now that the days are long and the fresh produce is working its way into the farmer’s market (hello, strawberries!), it’s making me just that much more impatient waiting out these next few weeks until the first local tomatoes make their appearance. So I console myself with the dependable cherry tomato, which somehow wonderfully and mysteriously manages to stay sweet and delicious all the year round. And one of my favorite ways to have it is tossed into this hearty salad made of avocado, shallots, feta cheese and yes, cherry tomatoes. Not a lettuce leaf in site.
This is a substantial salad that is perfect alongside grilled chicken or steak, and is a snap to throw together. You make a quick and flavorful dressing by shaking together a little vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper…the dressing is just to give the salad a little snap. The main flavors that you want to shine through are the sweet tomatoes, the creamy avocado, the salty feta and the little bit of bite that you get from the shallots.
Once you have the dressing mixed up, let it sit while you chop up your shallots (in nice little slices), your tomatoes (cut in halves and quarters), and your avocado (cut in chunks). Crumble up the feta, slice up some fresh basil and you are ready to roll. Place all the veggies and half the cheese into a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over it all and with clean hands, gently toss it by hand until everything is well mixed and coated with dressing. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…the best and only way to toss salad is with your hands. Plus it makes a great moisturizer, what with the olive oil and all.) Now sprinkle the rest of the feta on top.
It’s just the thing to get us through those last agonizing weeks of waiting for that first perfect big juicy Jersey tomato. The waiting…it’s the hardest part!
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- I shallot, sliced
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves and quarters
- ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
- Sliced fresh basil
- Make dressing by putting vinegar and oil in a jar and shaking vigorously. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Place shallot, avocado, tomato and half of the feta in a bowl. Pour dressing over and mix gently with clean hands. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
- Divide among plates and garnish with the rest of the crumbled feta and sliced basil. Serve at once.