Tuesday, September 10, 2013

RECIPE TIME: "So Long Summer" Salad!

My grandfather has a knack for growing great food. Actually, he has a knack for many things. When I used to visit as a child, he'd be up and at 'em well before 5 am, whipping up biscuits from scratch (oh and the strawberry jam? yep, that was homemade too). Then he'd tackle a few crosswords and head out to check on his vegetable garden. He grew tomatoes, squash, green beans, okra... you name it, he made it. And if I'm not mistaken, there was even a little muscadine wine operation going on in the backyard, but that's neither here nor there.

Having grown up eating the spoils of his labor, I have a special place in my heart for fresh tomatoes. During the summer, Big John (as we fondly call my grandfather) was always giving us more tomatoes than we knew what to do with. When you bit into one of his tomatoes, it tasted unlike any tomato you could buy at the store and you knew for certain that they were grown with love. 

Last week my CSA gave me tomatoes that reminded me of the ones from Big John's garden, and I felt compelled to make a fresh summer salad. Sometimes you have to keep it simple. Have you ever noticed how the simplest dishes bring out the most complex flavors, leaving room for you to taste the essence of the food?

So as we wish summer farewell, let's make a salad together...

You'll need a package of cherry tomatoes (preferably local!), a head of fresh arugula, 1 bunch of fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Wash and chop your tomatoes in half (or quarters). While you're at it, rinse the arugula too!
Then wash and pluck a large handful of basil leaves.
Using a sharp knife, slice your mozzarella into thin slices.
On a serving plate, top a bed of fresh arugula with 1 slice of mozzarella...
... then top with a handful of tomatoes and fresh basil and lightly drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Now sit down, take a huge bite and taste the love that was put into growing those fresh, local tomatoes!

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