High summer is most certainly here. Our backyard tomatoes are finally coming ripe after having been delayed slightly by some chomping by some inconsiderate critters. Eggplant has arrived in our shares as well, which has me very excited.
Highlights from last week
This week, I must admit, we've made lots of very simple vegetable salads, grilled vegetables with herby sauces, and a couple of veggie-filled pasta dishes. One night we made BLTs and another night we rescued a super stale baguette our neighbors brought down by making a bread salad.
Instead of more recipes for tomatoes here, I think I'd rather share some tips for making a delicious panzanella salad. I start with bread, tomatoes, olive oil, and basil--the classic ingredients for a panzanella salad--and work from there incorporating whatever is at hand. It helps to have stale bread, but it's not necessary. Either way, I like to make croutons from the bread by shallow frying cubes of bread in olive oil until they brown on a couple sides. For the tomatoes, I like to chop them into bite sized pieces and place them in a bowl with a pinch of salt to draw out the juices. After a couple of minutes, I toss in the bread and stir to let it soak up the flavor. When we have green beans, I like to chop them, blanch or saute them lightly, and add them to the salad. Lightly sauteed squash is another really nice addition. Peppers work, too. Sometimes I add cheeses, mozzarella or Parmesan, but usually it doesn't need it.
I'm very excited about eggplants this week; they add such a nice savory point to a dish. One of our favorite summer recipes is this eggplant and tomato pie, which is something like a savory pie and something like a deep dish pizza with less cheese. It's a delight. And, I love the crust, too. The recipe makes a double batch, it freezes really well, and has worked well with every savory filling I've thrown in it. For eggplants, I've also been eyeing this stir-fried garlic eggplant with pork because it's quite different from what we usually make. Another good classic worth mentioning again is this tomato, squash, and eggplant tian which takes a good bit of time to prepare but results in a simple but showy dinner perfect for a weekend evening or a dinner party (bonus points: it's delicious, yet entirely vegan and gluten-free, so it's great for hosting people with different dining needs).
Even though the idea of heating the oven when my kitchen is already 85 degrees seems foolish, these recipes for squash tians, gratins, and pasta bakes are calling me. I've bookmarked this recipe for a summer squash pasta bake and this summer squash gratin with salsa verde for a day when I feel brave enough to turn the oven on. The slightly different flavor profile of this zucchini tian with curried breadcrumbs also intrigues me, but when all else fails and comfort food is in order, I make fritters.
Usually we just cube our melons and eat them as a dessert or side. Occasionally, I'll make up a batch of this cantaloupe and vanilla bean jam from Food in Jars.