Friday, August 9, 2013

Good Garden Eating

Somehow each year we end up with a cherry tomato plant. It is never our intent, because mostly we grow tomatoes for sauce. But once those cherry tomatoes start coming on, we feel obligated to use them. This year, the plant is larger than some Christmas trees we've had, and about to overwhelm us.

In an effort to stay ahead of them, I've been trying to incorporate them into a couple meals each week. This recipe helped up use up a bunch of them, along with some cucumbers. It came from our local newspaper a couple years ago, but this was the first time I tried it, and I made a few changes to it.

Bread Salad

For salad:
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, at room temperature, halved
2 cucumbers, halved the long way and sliced into 1/4" half-moons
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 glove garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 c. thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

(The recipe calls for 2 pints tomatoes and 1 cucumber, also a chopped bell pepper and a chopped roasted pepper. We like cucumbers better than tomatoes so I adjusted that and I didn't have peppers on hand so I left them out. I also reduced the olive oil from 6 Tbsp. to 4 since I had less "bulk" to my salad.)

For bread:
1/2 pound Italian bread, cut into 1"cubes
1/4 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/8 tsp. coarse salt

Toss: In a large bowl, toss tomatoes, cucumbers, (peppers if using), onion, garlic, vinegar, oil, basil and salt. Let rest while preparing bread.

Toast: On a rimmed baking sheet, toss bread, oil, sliced garlic, and salt. Slide into a 350˚ oven and toast, shaking pan once or twice, until bread is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes.

Serve: Scrape bread mixture onto tomato mixture. Toss gently. Enjoy.  (I just topped the bread with the tomatoes, etc. on our plates and kept the leftovers separate so they could be enjoyed the next day without getting soggy. Just let it rest a minute or so and the bread will start soaking up some of the juices.)

I have never thought of myself as a fan of tomatoes, but I told Keith last night that I might just have to give in and admit that I like them. I still have no desire to pop one in my mouth straight from the garden, but I have been enjoying them this summer when they are tossed with oil, vinegar, and other herbs, and I don't think it is just a pregnancy thing. Though maybe Baby 2 will pop out with some inherited Italian taste buds if we keep this up, huh?

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