There is just nothing like the smell of vine ripe tomatoes. We have a little patch of budding plants on our back porch and I’ve caught even my burly husband lingering nearby them in the mornings as he waters the garden, just so he can run his hands over their little fuzzy leaves. He loves the smell they leave on his skin and I love the smell they leave on his skin too. This distinct, grassy, ripe essence is even more potent right now as this is THE moment of the tomatoes here and -I’m almost surprised to report that we’ve managed to get our hands on far more than I can handle this week between me being unable to decide between the yellow cherries and the bright red ones, those stripey green ones my mother brought over, and the big, bumpy multicolored ones I couldn’t pass up when the farmer sliced them up for me to taste at the market. Too many tomatoes wouldn’t be a problem if I had some extra time to can, or preserve them for later but instead we’ll leave in the morning for a little trip to my favorite place on Earth. I don’t know if it’s the tomato moment there – I kind of hope it is the raspberry moment, actually – and hope that the tomato moment won’t be over when we return home next week.
Buttoning up the house for a few days give me an opportunity to clean out the pantry, and the fridge, and plan what will fill our little black picnic basket of treats. The most unexpected meals pop out of the kitchen at these times because I refuse to buy more ingredients, and instead try to use up literally everything we have on hand. Sometimes this means we discover not-so-delicious smoothie or raw juice combinations when I try to pulverize our crisper drawer. But I’m optimistically playing with a new breakfast bread recipe for our drive, and mixing up some pancake mix to play with at the cabin. Last night, we discovered a new salad dressing made with dijon mustard and this pretty spectacular egg-free mayo. And this simple tomato + plum salad made with the ingredients of our entire fruit bowl that was just too good- and the colors too beautiful – not to share with you.
It started with this archived recipe from the always inspiring 101 Cookbooks, but I took my own creative turns with it. A tomato salad is a tomato salad, but it became a little bit more than that because we had plums + apricots on hand so those were tossed in. We are liable to eat this dish with a green salad (as we are with all things, embarrassingly, and truly) so I left out the torn greens and opted for fresh herbs. I didn’t take the time to dress it up with special oils or flowers; I just used what we had in on hand and hope that whatever your salad is, you do the same!
So – creative liberties. Take them! As you’ll see below, I used maybe 1/2 as many stone fruits as I did tomatoes, but if you have an equal amount of both then don’t let that prevent you from whipping up a version of this salad. If I didn’t have plums, I’d absolutely try cherries, pluots, apricots, peaches and nectarines if you have them. Other herbs could be lovely too. I think that the crunch of the toasted nuts really adds something, so if you don’t have almonds maybe try pepitas or even toasted torn bread. Or eat the salad with crackers (as I’m sure we’ll be doing in the car tomorrow.)
What else are we packing in that little picnic basket you ask? Probably our drive tomorrow isn’t actually going to be that long, so I keep telling myself that we won’t need much. None the less, a version of this and this will come along. What are you all packing on your summer road trips? Whatever it is I hope its DELICIOUS! – xo L
- 2 pounds tomatoes ( a mix of small heirlooms & cherry tomatoes), halved
- 1 pound ripe stone fruits ( a mix of plums, apricots, pluots and/or nectarines), sliced
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
- a few pinches of fine grained sea salt
- 1/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped
- 2 Tbsp capers, drained
- 1/3 cup chives, chopped
- 8 oz cilegine mozzarella, halved
- a handful of torn fresh basil leaves
- zest of one lemon
- an extra drizzle of olive oil or lemon oil (for finishing)
- flaked sea salt (optional) for finishing
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and adjust the oven rack to the top third of the oven. You're going to roast half of the fruits and tomatoes!
- Now, halve (and or slice) all of your tomatoes and stone fruits. Preferably, this will be a colorful mix of heirlooms, cherry tomatoes, and other colorful fruits. You want all the pieces to be about the same size so use the cherry tomatoes as a guide for how small to slice them all. You're going to roast half of the fruits and tomatoes.
- Toss the tomatoes you will be roasting gently (but well) in a bowl along with the olive oil, sugar, and salt. Then, arrange them in a single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet. Allow the fruits to bake, without stirring, for roughly 45-60 minutes or until they've shrunken a bit and have started to caramelize around the edges. Set them aside to cool a bit.
- Meanwhile, halve the mozzarella, grate the lemon peel, and chop the chives and basil leaves.
- When ready to serve, gently toss the roasted and raw fruits with a bit of chive or lemon oil, most of the almonds, most of the chives and basil as well as all of the capers and the mozzarella. Taste and season with a bit more salt if needed. Serve topped with a little sprinkling of almonds, chives and basil and perhaps a little bit of flaked sea salt.