Tuesday, August 3, 2010

how summer tastes

I don't know yet what we will have for dinner tonight, but I do know that I will probably be serving fresh corn and tomatoes with our meal - just as I have done for the past two days. High summer has come to Northeast Ohio, and that means farmer's markets and farm stands piled high with freshly-picked local produce. Even Ben - a notorious meat-eater - says that he could be a vegetarian this time of year.

I love corn on the cob - who doesn't? - but it's the fresh-from-the-vine tomatoes that I crave all the rest of the year. I like them best at room temperature, just sliced and salted, but we also love cherry tomatoes in a salad with blanched green beans and Vidalia onions. I love coarsely-ground pepper over tomato wedges and cottage cheese, but I have to say, no one else in the family shares my passion for that dish. We all love gazpacho, however, and when Julie comes home this weekend, it will be time for a big batch of that.

We have never had much luck growing our own tomatoes at this house, possibly because we are surrounded by so many big, old oak trees. We keep trying however, and this year we have three different varieties in various stages of ripening. Ben and I poke at the fruit almost every day, and I have to admit, I have been known to pick a ripe cherry tomato, wipe it clean on my shirt, and pop it in my mouth. That's what summer tastes like!

Here is the basic recipe for the green bean salad I make. I adapted it from a salad we were served somewhere else, so feel free to do the same.

fresh green beans
fresh cherry tomatoes
1/4 Vidalia onion, coarsely chopped
fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper

Snap both ends off the green beans, then snap them in half. Cook beans until they are just tender, then plunge them into cold water to cool. While beans are cooking, cut tomatoes in half, coarsely chop onion, and chiffonade the basil leaves. Prepare a simple salad dressing of the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain beans. Combine all ingredients, chill well. This salad tastes best if eaten the day it is prepared.


Ben said...

I couldn't agree more - fresh vine-ripe tomatoes are the taste of summer. Hooray for some gazpacho this weekend! We've eaten some really delicious tomatoes recently, and we've got our own ripening now too. I've enjoyed our experiment this year of growing some tomatoes from seeds. Next year we'll just start them earlier.

The bean salad you describe is really the best. Very simple, very tasty. Highly recommended!

jamanci said...

the bean salad can be served hot, too, if you forgot to leave enough time for it it to chill (heh)--the dressing doesn't soak in as well though.

can't wait for some gazpacho, and some ohio corn!

Ben said...

We sure had some tasty corn last night! MMmmmWow!!

And we've already been through our annual, "Zalay's is supposed to be good, let's try that again" - so you won't have to eat any yucky corn. ;-)

jamanci said...

pff. those people don't know from good corn. they're going for some sort of authentic experience, but fresh corn is better had somewhere less touristy!

i'll bring some of my tomatoes home for you. :)