Friday, July 13, 2012

That time of year...

I've been trying to decide what recipe to share for a few weeks now. I've had a few things ready to go but just needing to type them up, but for some reason none of them is grabbing at me today, asking to be shared. I think that's because it's that time of year. Summer. When there is such an abundance of fresh, delicious ingredients, that you don't really have to do anything.

You don't need a recipe to enjoy perfect, ripe fruit. The colors speak for themselves. It was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

This watermelon didn't photograph well (the variety was an heirloom, I think the farmer said it was called "moon and stars" for the pattern on the rind). It's a shame, because the bright orange fruit was electric, and so sweet and juicy. I knew it would be a good one because as soon as I cut into it Lucy was there at my feet, hoping for a bite or two (lucky for her I'm a sucker for puppy eyes).

These tomatoes were a gift from a friend's garden, and as all good summer tomatoes, bursting with flavor. We'd been to a Slow Food tomato dinner at Springdale Farm a few weeks prior and copied this dish: simply tomatoes tossed with olive oil, basil and sea salt and quenelles of fresh, homemade ricotta. If there is a good cheese monger near you they should have good ricotta, or try making it yourself. There are so many good recipes out there and it is truly easy-peasy. I used a combination of whole and 2% milk with a little heavy cream added for good measure. But really, the tomatoes made the dish. You could just as easily and happily skip the cheese.

And since it's summer in Texas and it's hot, there are peppers. Lots of peppers. We've been eating a lot of this spicy Thai beef recipe, with grass-fed beef and pastured eggs from the farmer's market, Thai basil from the garden, brown basmati rice and some baby spinach thrown in for extra measure. No pictures really can do it justice, so I'm not sharing them. It just looks like a mess of hamburger and greens over rice with an egg on top, so you'll just have to trust me that it's delicious, greater than the sum of it's parts. And fast, and healthy. Perfect for a weeknight, which is probably why we've had it 3 times in 2 weeks.

And for the times you feel the need to fiddle around just a little, there is always pie. Or crumble. Or cobbler. Or stewing. It's amazing what a little sugar, heat and time can do to doll up fruit, isn't it? Even more amazing what a little vanilla ice cream can do. Sure, get fancy and add port or spices to your frozen fruit in the winter, but it's summer, and simple is better.

I hope your summer has been filled with tomatoes and corn, watermelon and cherries, and of course barbecues and vacations with loved ones. What are your favorite foods of summer?