Tuesday, August 23, 2011

tomato time

Apples have hit the farmers market, a sure signal that the season has begun to change. I dream of that first bite of apple from the new crop and could not resist picking up a few early macs to savor while I shopped the farmers markets for TOMATOES! It is now or never with the tomato crop so with my plans to stock up I had to get on it.
Tomatoes of every size shape and color are now available in the outdoor markets. These heirloom beauties go for $4 per pound, a price that really adds up, especially when each tomato can weigh close to a pound.
Even the non-heirloom varieties can take a stab at your budget at $3 per pound. These gorgeous red globes are particularly hard to resist.
Keep an eye out for what the farmers call "seconds," these are the fruit that are less than picture perfect, but taste just as good. I found some particularly challenged heirloom seconds for $2 per pound and I pounced. Filling my bag quickly, the $9 I ended up spending still seemed steep, but well worth it.
Yes this is a funky looking bunch, but beauty is only skin deep and the proof is in the tasting.
Once opened up and put on the plate these second cousins move right up to honored guests status. I am going to be making batches of tomato sauce this week. I like to prepare it as a simple stove top simmer with garlic, basil and good olive oil. What I don't consume immediately will freeze well and make me smile come cool weather.

To keep my strength up while comparison shopping I put together a couscous salad, inspired by the Greek salads I have been making for a client recently. Chopped vegetables, a sprinkle of dill, a bit of feta cheese and a garlicky vinaigrette make this a filling, tasty dish that can hold up over several days, perfect for a picnic or a farmer's market road trip.

Greek Couscous Salad
2 cups of cooked couscous
1 small tomato, cut into 1" pieces
1 small cucumber, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 bell pepper (red or green) , cut into 1" pieces
1/2 small onion, cut into 1" pieces
4 oz feta cheese, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup pitted black olives sliced in half
2 Tablespoons chopped dill

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Make dressing: 
-whisk all together in a small bowl
1 garlic clove smashed and finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

-then slowly whisk in:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
Combine dressing ingredients by whisking vigorously. Pour dressing over couscous and vegetables. Stir to combine. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

I first read Deb's post late yesterday afternoon. After a great work-out at the gym, I was left wondering what to have for dinner. So, inspired by Deb's recipe, I ran to the supermarket on my way home to pick up the necessary ingredients. Going by memory, I left out a few things, of course. Fortunately I had most of the forgotten items on hand at home.

DELICIOUS! I absolutely loved this salad. Easy to make and so satisfying. I, too, have been making Greek-type salads all summer and this just hit the spot. In fact, I loved it so much, I came up with the idea to have a "Mediterranean" Girls Night. Hummus, babaganoush, tabouleh, plenty of pita, stuffed grape leaves, cous cous salad, maybe even falafel (Deb - do you have a recipe?) And all I could think about was......Rose.

While I was enjoying my dinner, I kept thinking how wonderful a glass of Rose would be with it. I didn't have any on hand, and I was regretful. Crisp, dry, pink....this is what I was imagining. If my Mediterranean Night ever comes to fruition, this is what I will be serving. Rose would be the perfect accompaniment to all of the aforementioned dips, spreads and salads. Recently, we promoted Domaine Les Haut Cances Cotes du Rhone Cairanne Rose. It quickly became one of my favorites. The little zing of acidity on your tongue makes it particularly wonderful. A blend of Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Carignan, it is made like an expensive red. It is truly extraordinary.

Being that this is only a 200 case production, it might be hard to find. But, you should have no problem finding other incredible Roses from the Rhone. Wines from the region are typically dry, and are made from blends similar to the Haut Cances. Wines from the same regions should be stylistically similar. Great bottles can be found for between $10-$15. There is an abundance of affordable options!

Thanks Deb, for this beautiful salad!

1 comment:

  1. Those tomatoes looks incredible- well, at least when you cut them open. I guess you can't judge a tomato by its outer appearance (very profound those tomatoes)


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