Still crushing on Summer….

Say it isn’t so!!! The kids are officially back in school and some would say that once again Summer has come and gone myself included, but this year I refuse to let go, just yet anyway.  My Summer got off to a rocky start as many of you know and I needed some time to just check out a bit, but still my depression era work ethic that I inherited from my grandparents can’t help but torture me mentally about what wasn’t done during the Summer months. At any rate there will be no more sleeping past 7 am, (this was the first summer that my daughters understood that no school meant not getting up at the crack of dawn) lounging by the pool, trolling farm stands, picking wildflowers, shuttling the kids to and fro to keep them from getting bored and driving me crazy in the process. No more sitting on my front porch at dusk fighting off mosquitos with a cocktail in hand (Well there still may be a little of this) or uninterrupted stretches of time that have allowed me to finally read something non-food related.

The mornings already have a bit of chill in the air, I’m back to waking at 5:30 am which I actually don’t mind once I’ve managed to drag myself out of bed, the house is quiet and ultimately I end up getting more accomplished in those three hours leading up to the kids walking out the door then I sometimes do all day. And of course I go back to my part-time job.  Allow me to get off track for a moment and make a long story somewhat short.  When I first moved back to my native South Jersey from the isle of Manhattan I took a break from food related work and ended getting a full-time job working for the local state college. Fast forward to four years ago and I left the full-time job to get back in the food game but as many know making a living as a freelancer is not for the faint of heart. My former employer built a satellite campus for the college right here in my home town and for the past 18 months or so I’ve worked part-time as a TA (Teaching & Technology Assistant) to the various professors who have classes in the facility during the Fall and Spring  semesters. I don’t normally work in the Summer for the college so I’ve picked up various other part-time work through the years (barista at a cafe, manager for the local co-op market/yoga studio) in addition to freelance work.

So where was I…yes, I’m still holding on to Summer for a wee bit longer and one of the ways that I’ve been doing that from a culinary standpoint is by consuming more tomatoes than reasonably acceptable. New Jersey aka “The Garden State” is known for its “Jersey Tomatoes” and during the months of August and early September no matter what the weather conditions were during the months prior everywhere you turn farm stands and backyard gardens seem to be bursting at the seams with Summer’s most beloved fruit. I know other bloggers have begun talking up all things pumpkin spice and the like, I even saw a recipe in my inbox this morning for chili but I’m still savoring the Summer tomato.

Sun-ripened tomatoes should be served simply, don’t go over board in your preparation. A sprinkle of good salt or a drizzle of your best olive oil will do or perhaps a handful of tender cherry tomatoes tossed in an oil slicked sauté pan and served over a bowl of pasta. My favorite way to eat a tomato is open-faced, thick slices piled on top a piece of toasted artisan bread, a smear of mayo and a pinch of sea salt. Sometimes I’ll add a little sliced avocado or smoked cheddar.

Do you see a reoccurring theme here? Tomatoes, cheese and carbs. (Tomato & Burrata cheese sandwich, Sauteed tomatoes over bow tie pasta, grilled pizza with fresh tomatoes and asiago cheese and finally kale and corn panzanella salad)

Do you see a reoccurring theme here? Tomatoes, cheese and carbs.
(Tomato & Burrata cheese sandwich, Sauteed tomatoes over bow tie pasta, Grilled pizza with fresh tomatoes and asiago cheese                                                and finally Kale and corn panzanella salad)

Kitchen Sink Tomato Salsa

I make homemade salsa year round, normally with a good quality brand of store-bought diced tomatoes but when tomato season rolls around only fresh will do. I picked up this technique for making salsa a couple of summers back when I was working as a part-time cook and barista at a vegetarian/vegan cafe. We would combine fresh tomatoes with whatever other misc. veggies we had lying around, carrot scraps, celery, bell pepper, fennel, zucchini. Everything would get a rough chop and thrown into the food processor with a hefty amount of garlic, onion, cumin, cayenne, salt, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.  Every batch was different yet just as flavorful as the previous one. You can chop the ingredients listed below by hand for a chunkier salsa or throw it all into your food processor and give it a couple of quick pulses. 

Makes about 3 cups

  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes (any variety will do)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • handful of fresh cilantro chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • cumin, cayenne pepper, kosher salt all to taste

*These are the base ingredients that I normally have on hand but feel free to add up to 1 cup of any extra chopped veggies that you like. 


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