• Cherry Tomato and Israeli Feta Salad

    by Dorothy Reinhold on August 15, 2012

    Print This Post Print This Post Cherry Tomato and Israeli Feta Salad

    When is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? (With apologies to Aristotle.)

    When it is a seemingly simple Cherry Tomato and Israeli Feta Salad created by caterer Gisele Perez, who owns Small Pleasures Catering in Los Angeles, and blogs at both Pain Perdu  and on her website.

    I tasted her tomato-feta salad at a recent party she threw, and I was smitten. I nibbled at her tapenade, always a favorite, I snarfed up her asparagus and her Caponata, and I kept coming back to the tomato salad. I might have gone back for fourths (don’t tell anyone). She agreed to share it with you today. Enjoy! –Dorothy


    Gisele PerezBy Gisele Perez

    A few weeks ago I was walking through the Santa Monica Farmers Market when I noticed a sign at a farmer’s booth — “World’s Best Tomatoes.”  I walked over to get a better look.

    “Oh well,” I said to him, “since they’re the world’s best tomatoes…” I bought a basket, even though I had already purchased other tomatoes that day.

    Sungold cherry tomatoes“Yep, Sun Golds” he said, “the world’s best. So sweet, they’re like candy.” I ate them several times that week.

    Fast forward a week or so, and I’m planning the menu for the regular summer Rosé Fest  (and here and here) I host at my home, where we sample several blush wines and the sun-kissed foods they were meant to accompany. The menu always includes a summery tomato, basil and buffala mozzarella or burratta salad, but this year I’m yearning for something a little different. I’m feeling the need for a bit more zing.

    And the Sun Golds are haunting me. I can’t get the humble tomato and feta salad I prepare for myself so frequently out of my mind. It’s often a go-to on summer days when I don’t feel like cooking. I make a meal of it with hummus and pita, or with a couple of pieces of fried chicken from the fast food place down the hill (tomato salads happen to be one of my favorite sides with fried chicken). Do I go with my humble lazy-day salad?

    “I love, love, loved that tomato salad,” says Dorothy, at Rosé Fest.

    “Really?” I responded

    “I could have made an entire meal of it. Would you consider doing a guest post for me?”

    “It’s so simple as to barely warrant a recipe” I respond, “mostly an example of using great ingredients.”

    Then Dorothy reminded me that I shouldn’t underestimate simple preparations. It’s true — I often do exactly that.

    So I got to thinking about what makes the salad work so well. And yes, it’s also true that this salad owes its deliciousness to great ingredients — the contrast of the Sun Golds and Sweet 100 tomatoes with the zingy Israeli Feta, which when I discovered it, became my preferred Feta. It’s slightly creamier than other Fetas, and a bit less tangy. Add extra virgin olive oil, a hint of garlic, a great balsamic vinegar and sprinkling of mint, and voilá – a simple salad to love.

    Cherry Tomato and Israeli Feta Salad

    Recipe: Cherry Tomato and Israeli Feta Salad

    Summary: A perfect marriage of summer-ripe cherry tomatoes and zingy Israeli feta cheese. You could make a meal of this during the summer!


    • 3-4 large cloves of garlic
    • Kosher salt
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 basket Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    • 1 basket Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
    • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Kirkland brand balsamic from Costco preferred)
    • 2/3 cups kalamata olives, pitted
    • 5-6 ounces Israeli Feta cheese (available at Trader Joe’s)
    • 12-16 mint leaves, torn
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


    1.  Mince the garlic, then sprinkle it with a healthy pinch of kosher salt. Mash the garlic to a paste using the side of a knife, then stir it into the olive oil in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Mix the cut cherry tomatoes into the olive oil mixture.
    3. Pour the balsamic over the tomatoes, mixing lightly, being careful not to break up the tomatoes. Then mix in the olives.
    4. Crumble the feta cheese over the salad. Sprinkle with the torn mint leaves, and season to taste with the freshly ground black pepper.
    5. Makes 6-8 salad servings. Of course, if you are making an entire meal of it, all bets are off.

    Gisele PerezSource

    Gisele Perez from Small Pleasures Catering.

    Preparation time: 15 minutes
    Diet type: Vegetarian
    Diet tags: Gluten free
    Number of servings (yield): 6-8
    Culinary tradition: Italian
    My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★

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