I promise I’m not going to whine about how hot it’s been here, because I whined plenty when it was too cold and I want to be thankful for the many bright and sunny days we’ve had over the spring and summer so far. I will say that I’m thankful that a cold front blew in yesterday (and when I mean blow, I mean blow because the winds howled last night) and I can open my windows again.
Unlike in Stamford where we’d hide in our less-than-optimal air conditioning and only venture out to go food shopping and maybe spend a few hours at the local beach, we haven’t let the heat stop us from going out and about, especially on the weekends. (I just have to make sure that I don’t try to apply sunscreen to my face post-workout without allowing some time for evaporation, because OH MY GOD MY EYES.) Granted, during this most recent weekend our main reason to go out was to go to the Rare and Obscure Beer Festival at Max’s Taphouse which was both a lot of fun and the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after a two-mile walk over there, but still–the fact that we’re not just cloistering ourselves in air conditioning during these heat waves is progress for us.
Much like my friend The Kitchen Witch, we’ve been trying to minimize stove and oven time to keep our place as cool as possible, so there have been many carafes of gazpacho and bowls of ceviches and crudos and tartares being served, especially on the weekends.
At least this overly-warm weather brings with it tons of delicious produce. We can still find some local strawberries at the farmers markets in town, but even the Teet and the Whole Foods have solid selections of heirloom tomatoes and stone fruits already. You may remember that last year I went a little nuts in August as Fairway had organic heirlooms on sale for the entire month; I’ve been able to find some comparable ones down here for pretty reasonable prices now, so instead of this year being the month of tomatoes it’s going to be the SUMMER OF TOMATOES. (At least I hope it will.)
And this salad pictured above bears a strong resemblance to one I would make last summer, but it’s significantly better mainly because it comes from the creative mind of Stephanie Izard, the first woman Top Chef winner and all-around badass. She calls for plums and nectarines in her salad along with tomatoes, but what makes the salad really special is the dressing she advocates: pistachio-lemon vinaigrette.
I hate her* for coming up with such a brilliant dressing that does so much with so little. By combining toasted and salted pistachios with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sambal, you get a flavorful dressing that strikes that right balance of salty, spicy, and sour, plus the nuts add some interesting texture via crunch. On this salad it gives just a little more complexity to an otherwise straightforward dish, and personally I think the addition of the nuts makes this as an ideal light lunch or even a light dinner if the heat has sapped most of the will to even assemble food from you. Stephanie is much more precise with her plating, while abo e you see the more slapdash version of this salad. It’s still really good, but probably not worthy of a Top Chef. When it’s too hot to function, I’d like to think she would forgive me that detail.
*not at all
Tomato and Stone Fruit Salad with Mozzarella
serves 2 as a light dinner or 4 as a side salad
Adapted from Girl In The Kitchen by Stephanie Izard
- 3/4 lb heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced into wedges
- 2 plums, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
- 4 oz fresh mozzarella, either cut into pieces or use the small Ciliegine balls
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2-3 Tbsp Pistachio Vinaigrette (below)
- 6 large basil leaves, torn
Slightly adapted from Girl In The Kitchen by Stephanie Izard
- 1 cup roasted, salted pistachios (I kept them whole because I thought it looked cool, and I toasted them for a couple of minutes first)
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon sambal
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, whisk together everything but the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and you can definitely save this in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
Place the mozzarella in a large bowl with the tomatoes and plums, season with salt and pepper and toss well. Then drizzle the pistachio vinaigrette over top, and place on serving plates and garnish with the torn basil leaves and serve immediately.