While Indy of May Dreams Gardens is regaling us with photos of abundance from her garden, and Dee from Red Dirt Ramblings is lamenting the heat and lack of produce from her garden, I am going to focus on the big highlight of my week: enough tomatoes to make several servings of bruschetta. That’s all folks.
High 90 degree days around here, 99 in the shade at 6 pm yesterday. NO ONE and NOTHING wants to produce in weather like this. Plants are doing what they can to stay alive. They are struggling mightily with evap-o-transpiration.
So, yesterday, I ventured out to my favorite farm stand . (Sorry, I am not going downtown to the public “see and be seen” market when it is all laid out on pavement and concrete and you have to wait and stand three deep to buy something. I am just not that groovy.) At the stand, I picked up some fresh Walla Walla onions, several pounds of Emmett grown apricots, and a Hermiston watermelon. Walla Wallas will be used in a variety of ways (recipes all this week), and the aps will be mashed up into freezer jam and a fresh apricot sauce for serving with Greek yogurt at breakfast. Or lunch. Whenever.
Eat it Up
So far this entire season ( we are at week 22), I’ve grown and harvested loads of salad greens, had a smattering of fresh apricots, a couple handfuls of alpine strawberries, bowls of red and gold raspberries, fresh garlic, 5 figs, a handful of serviceberries, and the apples are coming along. I had about 6 sugar snap peas. Can’t find the bean plants. Volunteer cukes are sprouting in the fig pot.
BUT now, NOW the tomatoes are making their much anticipated, longed-for, begged-for, appearance on my plate! Aside from the occasional ripe Sun Gold cherry tomato, which was plucked and popped directly from plant to mouth, I have tried to be patient and waited for enough tomatoes to make a real dinner dish: insalata Caprese or bruschetta pomodoro. Since I was fresh out of fresh mozzarella, it was bruschetta time.
My impromptu version:
Coarsely chop tomatoes, only the ones fresh and warm from the garden.
Add some finely chopped Walla Walla sweet onions (or whatever variety you might have on hand, knowing in advance, anything short of WW will be inferior. I’m just sayin’…)
Tear up and add some fresh home grown basil (if you must, use some from the farmstand). Rumor has it that chopping basil is bad juju. I need all the good juju I can get so I obediently tear mine. Plus, it makes your hands smell good.
Season generously with coarse salt and freshly (no substitutions) ground pepper. Side note: I am haunted by the story I read about Eugene Walter, world class cook and one of the founders of the Paris Review, hailing from Mobile, Alabama. He was so disgusted with regular pepper from a tin can, he compared it to ashes or sawdust and proceeded to soundly berate the unsuspecting waiter who gave him the pepper shaker. Ouch. I grind mine, fresh every couple of days. Store it in an airtight spice jar. It should knock your socks off when you smell it. If not, grind some more. On the spot. Or you will have Eugene nagging at your conscience. Trust me.
Now add a splash of olive oil and a splash or two of balsamic. Seek out golden or white balsamic. I hate HATE what regular balsamic does to the appearance of salads and fresh vegetables. Aged imported sherry vinegar is good , too, and not as dark as the balsamic.
Give this a stir. Let it sit on the counter at room temp. Don’t make me remind you that fresh tomatoes should never, ever, ever be refrigerated. While you are waiting for the flavors to meld, grill up some rustic bread, sliced into thick slices, brushed with some olive oil. Put a generous scoop of the tomato salad on top of the bread and bite into heaven. Sop up any and all juices on the plate with the bread crusts. This is a boho kind of food item. Do not invite dainty eaters to join you.
Next up: my short list of garden related cookbooks. Hint, hint: its not so short. Everyone is trying to get in on the act. And some are just bad actors.