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Summer’s Bounty Savored & Saved

22 Aug

Summer.

Lazy, hazy days full of jewel-toned, opulent tomatoes and heady herbaceous basil. Tiny, succulent berries, voluptuous stone fruits, lemon ades, barbecues

Cheese.

*screeeech*

Cheese?

What does cheese (Gromit!) have to do with summer?

Well, there’s two people in our household and thus two people daydreaming about their perfect summer dinner. I dream in technicolor heirloom tomatoes, the boy dreams in black & white mozzarella.

It’s kind of a fun word association game to play with him.

I say heirloom tomato salad. He says DiPalo’s fresh mozzarella.

I say heriloom tomato sandwich. He says Bianca from the Hawthorne Valley Farm School.

I say heirloom tomato bread soup. He says goat cheese from Coach Farm.

I say heirloom tomato pasta sauce. He says young peccorino (also from DiPalo’s).

You get the picture. We are two highly focused type-A people when it comes to our food obsessions. Luckily, our obsessions dance together like Fred & Ginger, beautifully and in perfect step.

And so we let them dance on Saturday in the form of the simplest salad. Just tomatoes, basil (purple opal and genovese), extra virgin olive oil scented with Moro oranges from Sicily and a few chunks of ricotta salata, paired with Bread Alone‘s outrageously addictive herb focaccia and of course, DiPalo’s sublime fresh mozzarella.

And since my obsession runs pure and deep, I decided it was time to do some “putting up”. It was too hot to actually make marinara sauce, so instead I froze some components to keep for a lazy cold day in December when a ray of August sunshine will be more than welcomed.

I passed some heirloom Italian paste tomatoes through a food mill and made an herby puree of Ryder Farm’s magical basil, Betsy’s garlic (the best garlic in the world) and oregano and froze them. (Doesn’t the frozen puree look like ‘mater pops?) It was a lot of work, but work I’ll be so happy I did in the dead of winter!

And FYI: It’s important to make and store your own pestos this summer (no matter how bad they look in photographs). There’s going to be a shortage of the imported stuff. Shudder to think!