I use the term “my garden” fairly loosely, since it will soon belong to someone else – which is why it is so overgrown.
I have no complaints about the mint and chives, though – they are two of my favourites, and I am happy to have them in abundance, at least for the time being (my new garden is lovely and lush, but also very well-ordered; so, for this growing season, anyway, there will be no invasive herbs running amok).
Between the mint and the heat, our meals have been largely inspired by the Mediterranean – a lot of grilling, quite a lot of olive oil and garlic, some rosemary, some lamb.
I am now at the point of almost constantly fantasizing about my new kitchen and all of the things that will happen in it: long, lingering conversations, slow cooked dinners, multi-course breakfasts (really!).
But until we get there, the order of the day is meals in minutes.
I am aiming generally for luscious, robust things that will fill me and cheer me, and can be made in the amount of time it would otherwise take to scoop some ice cream into a bowl.
I found this dish fit the bill admirably.
Lunch in minutes
I used a grilled eggplant leftover from a previous meal, which is why this took so little time for me to cobble together; but if you don’t happen to have any leftovers on hand, the grilling only adds a few minutes to your prep time.
1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise and grilled
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp wine vinegar
100g feta, crumbled
Cut grilled eggplant slices into cubes.
Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl , toss gently, and serve.
Serves 4, as a side dish
I nearly couldn’t eat them – I was so taken by their beauty that I just wanted to sit and stare.
I gazed at them on every lovely surface I could come up with (the white stove top, the pale blue platter, the yellow tablecloth, the green couch).
I sniffed them: they smelled like the memory of a garden from childhood.
Aren’t they gorgeous? Days later, I am still rapturous at the very thought of them.
After ogling them for a while longer and spending considerable time deciding how best to enjoy them, I made this sauce.
Then everyone in my family ate it.
And that, friends, is why I love food.
Fabulous Sauce from Fabulous Tomatoes
This is one of my favourite simple no-cook pasta sauces, but it also makes a great salad if, like I did recently, you discover partway through your preparations that there is no pasta to be had in the house. This is also one of the rare times when I have to insist that you use the best olive oil you can get.
3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 good quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
2 tbsp finely chopped basil
1 (340g) ball mozzarella, cut into small-ish cubes
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Lightly score each tomato with a sharp knife, then plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water (you may need to do this in batches) for just a minute or two, to facilitate peeling.
Scoop the tomatoes out of the water and peel them, then cut each tomato in half and remove the seeds. Core and coarsely chop tomatoes.
Place tomatoes in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl and toss gently with sugar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Let sit at room temperature a minimum of two hours, and as many as eight.
When nearly ready to serve (ie. while your pasta is boiling), add chives, basil and mozzarella to tomatoes and toss gently.
Makes sauce for about 450g of pasta, or salad for six.