When most people think of cherry tomatoes, they picture sweet red baby tomatoes, the ones that you see most often in supermarkets. However, there are a large number of breeds of cherry tomatoes available, all different sizes, colours and flavours.
Cherry tomatoes, so named because they are roughly the size of cherries, are usually sweeter than larger varieties of tomatoes. They are not all round; some are oval or have a shape more similar to a small plum tomato. They also come in many different colours, from the bright red of the most common kind of cherry tomato to yellow, orange and even the streaky green colour of heirloom tomatoes.
This recipe is best made with at least two different types of cherry tomatoes. I used red ones and “Sungold” ones for the recipe in the photograph. Sungold cherry tomatoes range in colour from yellow to a more orange shade; these ones were definitely heading towards the orange! However it you only have red cherry tomatoes, do still make this salad. It is too delicious to miss out on, and even though a variety of flavours enhances this salad, it is very nice made only with the red cherry tomatoes as well.
You definitely need shallots for this recipe. Their strong deep flavour is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the tomatoes. Do please use a good Balsamic vinegar for the dressing. It really does make a difference, and as most recipes only call for a small amount of this tangy yet mellow vinegar it is worth buying a more expensive bottle if you can. Also, the better the Balsamic, the less of it you need to get a good flavour.
This recipe is delicious served alongside just about anything and provides a lovely shot of colour on a buffet. It is best stored in the fridge, but please bring it to room temperature before eating as tomatoes really do not taste their best icy cold.
Obviously these quantities are flexible - you can make as much or as little as you wish. However I generally follow the rule of one shallot for every two cups of tomatoes.
About a cup red cherry tomatoes, washed, dried and sliced in half
About a cup of any other colour cherry tomatoes, washed, dried and sliced in half.
1 shallot, peeled and very, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil, Extra Virgin if you have it
1 teaspoon good Balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
a generous pinch of black pepper
Prepare the tomatoes as directed and place in a medium bowl. Add the chopped onion. Shake the olive oil, Balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper together in a small jam jar. Pour over the tomatoes and shallots and mix very gently. Cover and set aside for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavours to mellow and blend together. (If you are not going to be serving the salad for a few hours, it is best to put it in the fridge to mellow and then remove it about an hour before serving.)
Gently stir the salad and serve it in a pretty bowl.