At the beginning of summer I promised myself I would make two dishes before the end of summer. A Nicoise Salad with fresh beans from the garden. I had always wanted to make this dish but summer always slipped by so fast that it never happened. This year I finally managed it, although it was a close call – in the latter days of February. But it was still very delicious, with most of the ingredients coming from the garden. I don’t know why I took so long to make it – maybe because we don’t really like beans all that much!
But that isn’t the dish I wanted to talk about. Today I made the most incredible dish. I’m not sure what delayed me, maybe it was I was waiting for that perfect summer day that never happened, or I was just procrastinating. The first reason shows me in a better light! The dish in question has a fancy name “Insalata Caprese Salad” but I didn’t know that until just now when I Googled it, because a Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Salad, just sounded too ordinary to do it justice. Although its simplicity is its secret. And it is so good!
Oh why did I wait so long – this is a dish that deserves to be eaten outside on a hot summer evening with a good bottle of something Italian, not inside on a wet, miserable autumn day! Well I am just glad I got round to making it, driven by the fact that the last of the tomatoes are clinging to shrivelled plants, with the first hint of blight spotted on a bush in a damp corner. As far as the tomatoes go – it was a case of now or never, I don’t even know what varieties I used as the labels had long since worn away, but they were red, ripe and juicy!
Another key ingredient – the basil had got lost in the herb garden – over run by the parsley that had gone to seed and the nasturtiums (mental note: plant them away from other things next year – they are a bossy plant!) Once I found them I realised that like the tomatoes – they too were on their last legs and were in full flower. I really need to get in there and harvest and process them before it is all over and I missed the boat!
The last ingredient was something I didn’t grow – but I made, and I’m so proud of myself. I made the mozzarella. Admittedly I had to make two attempts because yesterday it all went mushy at the last stage instead of going stretchy! Having said that it is actually really easy when you follow the instructions (check here to see how) and I ended up with all these little balls of white cheesy goodness. (I’ve kept some back to use on a pizza or cheese on toast – yum!)
Then I sliced everything up and laid them out decoratively on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and did-dah – I did the impossible, I turned back time and for a few minutes it was summer again!
Come again soon – I have a crazy plan – I hope it works.
Sarah the Gardener : o )