I think it goes without saying that salads really get an opportunity to shine in the summer. They make appearances in all kinds and forms at parties and barbecues where people expect them to be reliably located on a table outdoors, maybe on someone’s back deck, and the table has a plastic tablecloth in some cheerful color or print taped to it, and it probably has a couple tears here and there because they don’t make cheap plastic tablecloths like they used to, and amongst the half empty bowls of chips and pretzels and crudités and dips and plates of hotdogs and hamburgers regularly being refreshed by the tender of the grill you will find your coleslaw, potato and macaroni salads, maybe a broccoli or quinoa salad, perhaps a fattoush or even a caprese. And of course you’ll put a bit of everything on a paper plate and grab some plastic cutlery before commencing the art of standing around in a circle while talking to friends and eating from said paper plate that wants to buckle while juggling your solo cup of soda, beer, water, or maybe even a white wine spritzer: ’Tis the season!
But surely these staples of summertime get-togethers won’t be the only salads you make and eat over the next few months. Maybe you’ll cruise through your local farmers market or pickup your CSA haul and be giddy with excitement over that freshly dug and tender and crisp and flavorful lettuce. That’s right: flavorful lettuce. Or perhaps you’ll make plans on the fly for a side salad with the quart of sugar snap peas you couldn’t resist buying from that farm stand you stopped at, but then proceed to eat half of them on the way home like you do, err, like I do, with McDonald’s fries from the drive-thru, but in this instance there’s scarcely any remorse.
And it’s okay, because there’s bountiful produce and you can slice it and dice it and toss your way to the kind of salad-for-dinner-satiety that I find harder to get excited about in the cooler months when salad for dinner really means an entire baguette will surely meet its demise alongside the beets, kale and goat cheese standard I like to make when the nights are dark and full of terrors.
Anyways, salads are a no-brainer this time of year, as summer produce can be so good on its own that it doesn’t require much manipulation or transformation, just some simple preparation—as is the case with this caprese salad. That doesn’t mean, however, that I won’t turn on the oven here and there to make a pan pizza, or a galette, or bake cannelés like a woman possessed in order to nail down the recipe, as I’ve been doing of late, so that I can share it here at some point in the future. Because things still need to get done and I like to have options and on occasion be contradictory. So take that, sweltering hot kitchen! [shakes fist at sweltering hot kitchen]
BUT sometimes it’s so rewarding to simply grab some great ingredients: ripe, juicy tomatoes from the garden, little fresh ciliegine from across the Vermont border, and some big ass leaves of basil from the plants Ryan grew. Do a little prep work and then toss it all together with drinkable quality extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season the whole mix just enough to help everything realize its fullest potential. As Liz Lemon would say: I want to go to there. And, actually, I’m just gonna put this out there, but an entire loaf of bread could easily disappear alongside this caprese. Or you could boil some pasta and then toss that with this caprese. And maybe even still serve a hunk of bread alongside. Because when you get to the bottom of the bowl, you’ll be glad you have it. What can I say? If it weren’t all so good together I wouldn’t recommend it.
Note: I've also posted a grilled version of this recipe here
Well hello! I'm Kat, and
I'm always either cooking or thinking about what I want to cook next. For me, food is always about so much more than just my next meal. This is a place for sharing stories and recipes from a life lived through the lens of food...