Spring is here and we can't wait to show off our new Sal del Mar hand-embroidered bags. The designs are inspired by the irresistible display of vegetables soon to be seen in our Farmer's Markets and in our local grocers. We have in fact named them: There is our Ravishing Radish, our "Cover Girl" Plump and Juicy Tomato and our Endearing Corn-on-the Cob. Each design is truly a work of art that our embroiderers have painted with thread. Of course, Our Very Veggie Gourmet Sea Salt is the same salt we are known for and use in everyday cooking or for crusting the rim of a cocktail glass. We just wanted to show off Sal del Mar and how it is ideal for sprinkling on fresh vegetables to enhance the flavor of their natural goodness You'll want one for your own kitchen or for giving as gifts to your gourmet friends (Our Very Veggie Gourmet Sea Salt makes a great Mother's Day gift - tie up our embroidered bag with twine on top of a new cookbook!)
I have been thinking for days about what to post for a 4th of July picnic recipe. I finally had an idea flash... a crudités...something I always love to serve with barbecue picnics of hot dogs, hamburgers and corn-on-the cob.
Radishes are my favorite crudités. They are best served ice-cold and on warm summer evenings (I sometimes serve them on ice). I use a variety of radishes, if available, especially French breakfast and baby Easter Egg radishes.
The classic way to serve them is with soft unsalted butter and, of course, Sal del Mar gourmet sea salt. Eating them with butter and Sal del Mar is absolutely decadent. (Use the European style of unsalted butter).
Of course, half the dish for me is stylizing it. Clean and trim the radishes, leaving a few pretty leaves on top. Arrange on a plate with Sal del Mar. Serve the butter in a small dish or ramekins. Simple!
The hunt is on. It is the peak season for tomatoes and I'm off to every farmers market searching up and down the stalls laden with the last of summer's bounty. Yes there are beautiful eggplant, beets, squash, arugula and green beans... but my eyes are only on the tomatoes.
I spot my favorite heirlooms and rush over to fill my bag with their vibrant red, yellow and even green succulent varieties. I buy three in one stall and five in another unable to resist leaving any behind. My bag is so heavy that I'm almost dragging it.
I could go on till more bags are filled but stop myself with the realization that I have enough for a family of twelve and "it's just the two of us " to cook for the next week.
At home unpacking my treasures, I can't believe that I ever worried that I might have too many.
There are tomato pies to be made; caprese salads; bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches; tomato; squash; basil pastas; and gazpacho soup.
It will be time for another hunt soon.
This is the recipe I tried first. It is from "Food to Live By" by Myra Goodman. It is easy and features the garden fresh taste of the Farmer's Market tomatoes:
SPAGHETTI WITH FRESH TOMATOES, ZUCCHINI, AND BASIL
Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main course
2 medium-size ripe tomatoes (about 2 cups cut into 1/2 inch dice) or 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon truffle oil, or l additional tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Pinch of dried red pepper flakes Sal del Mar 1 pound dried spaghetti (I used linguini) 2 medium-size zucchini (about 8 ounces) cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/2 cups) l large clove garlic, minced Freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the truffle oil, basil, parsley, and pepper flakes in a medium-size bowl and stir to combine. Season with Sal del Mar to taste. Let the tomato mixture sit a room temperature until the flavor develops. About 1 hour.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water (of course, with Sal del Mar) to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package directions.
3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a medium size skillet over medium low heat. Add the zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Season the zucchini with black pepper to taste.
4. Drain the spaghetti into a colander and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the tomato and zucchini mixtures to the spaghetti and toss to combine. Taste for seasoning, adding more Sal del Mar and/or pepper, if needed. Serve the spaghetti warm or at room temperature.
It seems like I have become the "official salad maker" for all my family at our nightly dinner parties in Chatham where we are living this summer. I am up for Master Chef award with a capresse salad that I make with burrata cheese. It's name "burrata" in Italian means "buttered" and that is how to best describe it. Burrata has a solid mozzarella outside shell and then inside is a mozzarella and cream. It is a great salad to take when you are asked to bring a dish to a dinner party if you want to be a hit! And it's easy.
A variety of tomatoes such as: heirloom, cherry, grape, plum
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or enough to lightly drizzle over each tomatoes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sal del Mar to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Cut the regular tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices, and the plum tomatoes into wedges. Cut the cherry, grape and teardrop tomatoes into half. Arrange the tomatoes and cheese on a platter. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with basil Sal del Mar and pepper to taste and serve.