The wine was flowing as the sun dipped into the ocean. Laughter was heard far from our picnic area as I danced barefoot with dear friends. Friends that hadn’t been together in years but whose friendship was as strong as the moon’s pull, gathered for a festive dinner on the beach. A couple weeks ago, these were the nights of our summer.
My summer memories from Alabama always include local bands playing music on the waterfront while we danced with warm beers in our hands. Those days, eating anything other than crawfish were rare and spending any time in the kitchen just took away from beach and boat time. Our recent trip to California brought back these carefree summer-time memories and I carried that same easy-breezy mentality when I returned home to the kitchen. The days of summer always make me yearn for impromptu backyard BBQ’s with friends and dishes you can throw together quickly.
As the sun is gradually starting to set earlier here at home, it is a grim reminder that summer is slowly coming to an end. And I realized: I haven’t shared one of my summer recipes! Summer begs for simple dishes: playing up the flavors of seasonal produce with a pinch of salt, fresh herbs and a simple oil and vinegar mixture. The crisp, fresh taste of summer doesn’t need much to highlight its most complex flavors, which is exactly what I’ve done here. The mere act of salting tomatoes and letting them marinate in their own juice transforms these brightly coloured fruits into a flavour explosion in your mouth! Add some crunchy “pangritata” (a seasoned bread crumb and walnut mixture from Jamie Oliver), crisp green beans and some sweet, cooling zucchini, and you have one of the easiest summer salads that will impress any guest!
Over the past few months we have been enjoying vegetables and whole foods in their purest, most simple form to ensure we get the most out of our farmers market finds as well as our summer nights. Some of my favourites include blistered snap peas and broccolini with a sweet tahini sauce, sprouted mung beans and lentils with sweet roasted carrots and a cilantro yogurt sauce, harissa-spiced noodles with garlic greens and arame, and sliced zucchini and yellow summer squash with mint and macadamia nuts. (By the way, I have wanted to share all of these with you but haven’t had the time to photograph! Hopefully soon!).
To give you a bit more inspiration for the last days of summer, here are some of our family’s favourites:
- an easy quinoa salad by Bon Appetit that I can’t stop eating
- a celebration of summer with this fruit tart from Sarah at My New Roots
- a way to use up the abundance of summer zucchini with a healthy version of Brooke’s zucchini bread over at Chocolate and Marrow
- one of the most delicious fresh herb-marinated fish, and sliced raw veg recipes from Aran at Cannelle et Vanille
- a perfect backyard BBQ lamb burger with whipped feta and grilled tomatoes from Ashley at Not Without Salt (you can trade in the lamb for ground turkey as well!)
- summer in a bowl with Green Kitchen Stories’ Summer pasta with smashed tomatoes
- my very favourite succotash from “The Kind Diet”
I hope you have found some inspiration to lengthen your summer evenings with this easy and quick salad. Invite over some friends, throw some food on the grill, turn up the music, and keep the wine flowing.
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced thick, 1 slice reserved
- 1 zucchini, sliced thinly on a box grater or mandolin
- 6 oz green beans
- 2 large pinches of salt
- handful of fresh basil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 large piece of stale whole grain bread, or toasted bread
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/2 a large garlic clove or 1 small
- leaves from 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 pinches of salt
- 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
- Lay the tomatoes in a single layer on a large serving platter or in a large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt. Depending on the size of your bowl, you may need to make two layers of tomatoes after sprinkling the first layer with salt.
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, blanch the green beans for 4-5 minutes or until they are cooked but still crunchy. Drain, run under cold water, then set aside.
- In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until combined. Squeeze the piece of tomato you reserved into the dressing and shake together again. Set aside the dressing.
- If you don't have stale bread, place the fresh bread in the oven at 350 F until hard. Remove and transfer to a food processor with the walnuts, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pulse until well combined and the consistency of bread crumbs.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the pangritata and toast the bread crumb mixture for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Be careful not to burn, you just want to toast until fragrant. Transfer to a jar with a tight-fitting lid. You can keep the pangritata for 5 days.
- Roll the basil leaves and thinly slice (chiffonade). Sprinkle the basil over the tomatoes and add the zucchini slices and green beans. Toss with a bit of dressing (dress with half, taste, then add more depending on your liking and the amount of tomatoes and zucchini you had). Top with the pangritata. Enjoy!
- Pangritata recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver