Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The First Bite Of Summer

Eight long months.

It's been eight months since last years  first frost zapped our beloved hardworking tomato plants into submission.  They weren't in the best of shape after the long hot summer and draught, but they were still producing a lot of tomatoes. The cold snap killed them. With the blink of an eye, they were gone.

This year, we only have five heirloom tomato plants growing in huge containers on the back deck. Although they have plenty of  beautiful green tomatoes on them, we'll have to wait for them to ripen and hope our groundhog doesn't get to them before we do.

It's our humble grape tomato plant that came through first. For the past couple of weeks, I've watched  small grape tomatoes form into clusters (much like grapes) and dangle from tiny stems.  Grape tomatoes are funny things.  They never  ripen all at once. They ripen one, two, or three at a time. Usually, there are never enough of them to fool with. They're to be picked and nibbled on, like garden snacks, while tending the main garden. Small warm sweet bursts of freshness.

Last night, I found eight ripe grape tomatoes dangling separately throughout the plant. Eight small tomatoes ended eight months of tomato anticipation.

We immediately plucked two and ate them, still warm from the sun.  Summer officially began.

 I knew exactly what I would do with the remaining tomatoes.

The herbs on the back deck are thriving. Really thriving. The more I cut them, the more they grow. The African Blue Basil has bolted from the rains, heat, and humidity, eclipsing the gorgeous parsley, chervil, thyme, rosemary, sweet basil, and chives.  Although it will never go to seed because it's a sterile basil cultivar, I still cut it back to control it.

Last night, we had tomatoes and bountiful herbs.

Salad caprese....with a twist.

I had already planned a simple pasta supper. Salad caprese fit perfectly with the plan. I didn't  want to muck around with the delicate freshness of our little tomato booty, so I kept it very light handed.

I loaded our blender with generous handfuls of African Blue Basil leaves, sweet basil leaves, parsley, chives, bitter baby arugula, salt, and pepper. After adding a cup of extra virgin olive oil, I pulverized and blended the herbs into a luscious bright green herbed oil.

I drizzled the herbed oil onto a plate, topping it with halved grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella bocconcinis, and basil leaves.  Fresh squeezed lemon juice finished the salad caprese.

The combination of  warm burstingly sweet tomatoes with tiny bites of fresh mozzarella peppered with fresh basil leaves was perfect.  Fresh.  Exciting.  Although certainly not traditional, the pooled herbed oil splashed with lemon juice created a broken vinaigrette, providing subtle acidic undertones. Fabulous.

Let the games begin.

No comments: