My personal summer philosophy, as Gentle Readers may have noticed over the years, is to avoid the menace lurking in the kitchen – the stove – as much as I can. I make exceptions for steaming ears of corn, quick-frying croutons for BLT chicken salad, and boiling pasta. In my fantasy life we would be dining out often, but the reality is not half that glamorous. We tend to be frugal homebodies, but that doesn’t mean that we are not eating well.
Last night we had a divine Caprese salad, that was rich and varied and quite unlike the cold, straight-out-of-the-fridge restaurant version that you often get served these days. I shopped local (our farmers’ market) for a couple of pretty and colorful heirloom tomatoes even though our garden is still producing a prodigious amount of fruit. It was nice to inject some color with the yellow tomatoes, and a little sweetness with some jewel-like cherry tomatoes. I snipped a couple of bunches of basil from the back porch basil farm, too. We had some leftover fresh slicing mozzarella from last Friday’s pizza, and small olive-sized pearl mozzarella. Mr. Friday likes olives more than I do, so I tossed a handful of deli Kalamata olives in his bowl. Then I enjoyed a grownup version of roasting marshmallows by roasting red, green and yellow peppers under the broiler for a few minutes. They sizzle and crackle and blacken. I suppose you can cheat and buy jarred peppers, but where is the fun? (And five minutes of broiler time will not seriously compromise your new summer philosophy.)
Easy Peasy Caprese
2 ripe bell peppers, 1 red and 1 yellow if possible, roasted
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fresh mozzarella, at room temperature
2 pounds ripe tomatoes
½ pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon capers
A scoop of good-quality olives
6 thin slices of prosciutto, more if desired (I skipped prosciutto in mine)
Handful of basil leaves
You can also add croutons, cucumber, or thin onion slices. Use your imagination, and what may be hiding, forgotten, in the vegetable bin. We want to avoid wasting food as much as we want to avoid another trip to the store.
We drizzled lots of fancy olive oil, too. Obviously two people will grind to a heart-stopping halt if they ate that much cheese every night, so eyeball the amounts you want to use, or what you have on hand. You can even make this as a side dish, and use salad dressing instead of just oil. We were trying to feel sophisticated and Tuscan. Be sure to add some good crusty bread and a glass or two of delightful wine. And candles. And then there is plenty of time to binge watch Season 2 of Derry Girls.
Here is a somewhat fancier recipe:
Ultimate Caprese Salad
More stay-at-home, no-cook summer favorites:
Gazpacho – so versatile – you can make it as soup, or as a cocktail!
Garden-Fresh Chef Salad – get out of the iceberg rut!
Cucumber, Yogurt, and Horseradish Soup
Here is a fiendishly easy way to rid yourself of excess zucchini!
This next recipe does involve turning the oven on to roast the nuts, but maybe you can assign that to someone else while you read the next chapter of Fleishman is in Trouble.
You should be enjoying the heck out of summer. Winter will be here soon enough. Indulge!
Nigella Lawson’s No-Bake Nutella Cheesecake
“In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible.”
– Sarah Dessen