Monday, August 17, 2009

The Tomato Days of Summer

I was in NJ for one last week of the summer and got lots of great recipes from my aunts. With eighteen people, some vegetarians, some picky eaters, and some serious carnivores, meals were a mishmash, but a yummy mishmash. Here is my aunt Margo's addicting tomato and black bean salad.

Tomato and Black Bean Salad

2 TBSP mayonnaise

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teas. salt

3 cups tomatoes, diced

2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup sweet corn, cooked and cut off the cob or frozen cooked

1 cup very coarsely chopped arugula

1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil

Whisk together mayonnaise and olive oil in a medium mixing bowl.

Add garlic and salt and let sit while you prep everything else.

Add remaining ingredients and chill at least one hour. Serve.

Note: this is excellent the next day added to a green salad.

One compromise we made was to base meals in vegetarian dishes but have a small side of meat to satisfy the meat-eaters. It's such a nice way to get a little bite but not overwhelm the meal with 12 ounces of steak. We made lamb chops smothered in herbs. They were tiny - not more than 3 or 4 ounces each, but it was the perfect complement to basil pesto and fresh corn.

Herb-smothered Lamb Chops

Preheat oven to 350.

Dice 1 TBSP each basil, thyme, sage, and rosemary. Put in a small bowl and add 1 teas. cilantro salt. Stir well.

Put 6 lamb chops in a 1 to 2 inch deep baking pan and cover with the herbs.

Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil.

Bake approximately 1/2 hour, until cooked to your liking.

Sweet corn

The quickest way (and most environmental, as it uses very little water) to cook fresh corn on the cob is to steam it. It only needs 10 minutes at the most in the steam, and it will be perfect. Another way is to put the corn into boiling water and cover it. As soon as it returns to a boil, take the corn out.

When we got home, we had our first ripe tomato from the garden. Since we only have three total tomatoes, this one is really valuable! And, it is so good. Sweet, packed full of flavor, juicy but not mushy. It sat on our counter for a few days between my uncle picking it and us returning, and it still made my hands smell like a tomato. I am so sorry we don't have more coming, because this really is what a home garden is all about, in my opinion.