Thursday, September 5, 2013

Farewell Summer

Although the Labour Day long weekend doesn't officially mark the end of summer, it sort of is.  It certainly signals the start of school, and even now as a 30-something adult, this time of year still makes my stomach turn.  Don't get me wrong though, I love that autumn brings in cool weather, calm serenity and muted colours.  It's just hard not to love the summertime, when everything is alive and fun is so easy to come by.  But nothing lasts forever, and perhaps never having enough is exactly what makes it so good.

With the end of summer near, I'm not sure if I'll be able to make good on my promise of finishing my bakery map-guide.  Boo.  I'll likely be busying myself with canning and preserving in the coming days, and I've been talking big about cooking a half bushel of roma tomatoes into sauce.  I am over the moon for tomatoes right now.  Simple tomato salads piled sky high with fresh herbs are easily my new favourite dinners.  Panzanella with lots of basil if I have a good chewy bread to spare.  Tabbouleh when I'm in the mood for parsley and mint.  But on most nights, a huge village salad with a side of pasta or bread feels just right.

Heirloom Village Salad
Makes 2 meal-sized or 6 side servings.

If you can find them, use colourful heirloom tomatoes and purple bell peppers to make this salad really pop.  If using dried black olives, use only 1/4 cup as they tend to be saltier.  I find that the feta and olives lend enough salt to the salad, but if it's not enough, feel free to add salt to taste.

4 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced and halved (or 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 large field cucumber, sliced in quarters lengthwise, deseeded, and cut 1" thick
1 purple bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 small red onion, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 cup pitted and sliced black olives
1/2 cup crumbled or cubed feta cheese
30 large fresh basil leaves, julienned
4 long sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves only
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the prepared tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and onion pieces into a large bowl.  Scatter olives and feta over top, and pile the basil and oregano high in the centre.  Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice evenly, and finish with a generous sprinkle of black pepper.

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