Monday, August 10, 2009

Bitter Blight


Saratoga Spa State Park, a gorgeous place to picnic.

This weekend was our family's annual trip to Saratoga Springs, NY and their farmers' market is undoubtedly the highlight of my summer. The variety of produce and the passion among farmers and shoppers for all things fresh and delicious is always palpable. I dream for weeks ahead about the elaborate meal I will make after my shopping. This year, as always, I headed straight over to my favorite heirloom tomato grower. My heart sank as I looked over his beautiful knobby fingerling potatoes and his lush lettuces. Not a tomato in sight. I was informed that almost the entire crop had been wiped out by the raging tomato blight and there was little hope of salvaging even a tenth of the crop. So sad.

One or two farmers had small tomatoes available and I grabbed up a few precious fruits. My plan this year was to head straight to our picnic site after shopping, so food prep had to be simple.

Such cute little canteloupes!

The grapefruit sized mini cantaloupes could not be passed up and some pretty sweet white onions rounded out the salad I had in mind. I had already packed a vinaigrette that I made at home, so all was set. It is hard to accept that I won't be seeing much of the heirlooms this summer. I wait all year for one month of tomato bliss. The farmer told me that the organic and small farms are the ones being the hardest hit. I had been enjoying the relentless June rains for keeping my home garden moist but now I am realizing the bitter price.

Well, I had the makings of a fantastic salad in my hands so it was time to look on the sunny side.

A trifecta!

Tomato Cantaloupe and Sweet Onion Salad
serves 4

4 Small tomatoes thinly sliced
1/2 a cantaloupe melon, thinly sliced
1 small Sweet Onion, thinly Sliced

1 Tbls sherry vinegar
I garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp powdered mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 cup really good extra virgin olive oil

So, the key to this salad is the thin slicing. The tomato and melon don't have to be paper thin, but try to get the onions as thin as possible. Arrange everything on a plate in any pretty way you like. The colors will be beautiful.

Make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl whisk together the first 5 ingredients to blend, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you whisk to emulsify. Try to use the best olive oil you can get your hands on as this is what is going to make the salad heavenly.

Spoon the dressing over the salad and let sit for a few minutes so all the flavors mingle.

serves four

Deb - This salad sounds great, especially given its simplicity. I might even be making a trip to the market on the way home to try this myself! Sounds like a perfect dish for a hot day like today. I would love to enjoy it alongside one of my favorite summertime drinks - a nice, cold glass of Prosecco. This wonderfully refreshing sparkler is Italy's answer to Champagne, just slightly less effervescent. The Prosecco grape hails primarily from the Veneto region of Italy. It typically produces light, crisp, delicate sparkling wines with wonderful fruit flavors. Prosecco doesn't have the same "serious" side as Champagne. It's just a great libation to enjoy with friends, sitting outside on the patio during summer. And what makes it even more attractive is its affordability! Price generally ranges from $9-$20. Two of my favorite Prosecco producers are Bisol and Riondo. The light, refreshing characteristics of Prosecco make it a perfect complement to this light, refreshing salad! Might just have to invite a few friends over tonight! - Amanda

1 comment:

  1. This is such a great summer salad idea! I loved not having to cook anything. The raw onions (though very finely sliced) were a bit too much for me, so I'm going to try it again with carmelized onions (on a day when standing over the stove isn't so daunting!). I think the carmelization will go nicely with the sweet melon, and add a complimentary "smoky" flavor as well.


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