Join writer and editor Rosemary Gretton as she walks us through this most delicious summer evening.
This salad is best served on a late summer evening, when tomatoes are at their ripest. Boccincini are nuggets of soft, creamy, fresh mozzarella cheese, about the size of a cherry tomato. In Italian, bocconcini means “small mouthfuls.”
First, head outside to your vegetable garden, smiling as you savour the sight and smell of the warm, ripe Bella Rosa tomatoes, finally come to fruition. Pick four or five large tomatoes right off the vine. Bring them in the house. Wash the tomatoes well, and cut them into thick slices. Place the slices in a glass salad bowl.
Answer the phone. It’s your neighbor, asking if she can switch with you on the carpool next Monday. Check your calendar and tell her it’s fine.
Now where were you? Oh yes, the salad. Open the fridge and take out a red onion and two cloves of garlic from the crisper. Peel the onion and slice thinly on a cutting board. Put the sliced onion in the bowl with the tomatoes.Open the utensil drawer in your kitchen and rummage around for the garlic press. Remember that you used it yesterday when you made that pesto sauce, so it’s still in the dishwasher. Take it out and wash it. Peel the garlic, place it in the press and squeeze it through into a small bowl. Set the garlic aside.
Go and try to help your son with a math problem. It’s been so long since you took algebra.
Okay, what else do you need for the salad? Take out your Everyday Italian recipe book to check. Right. The bocconcini, of course. It’s in the fridge. Or is it? Search the shelves, but then remember that you meant to pick some up when you were at Trader Joe’s the other day, but forgot. Call your husband and ask him to buy some on his way home from work, along with a loaf of crusty French bread.
Open a bottle of Merlot and pour yourself a glass. Check your Facebook status on your laptop. Things have been busy—nine notifications since your last update. Respond to a witty post from your friend Annie about her favorite word.
Find your kitchen shears and head out to your herb garden near the patio outside the kitchen and snip off several large cinnamon basil leaves. Bring them inside and wash them. Chop the leaves coarsely and add the basil to the other ingredients in the salad bowl.
Take out the bottles of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil from the cupboard. Pour a generous splash of each into a glass measuring cup. Find a jar of Dijon mustard in the fridge door and add about a teaspoon’s worth into the vinegar and oil. Add the minced garlic. Find a whisk and mix it all together. Add a smidgen of maple syrup and whisk that in too so the vinaigrette isn’t quite so tart.
While you’re waiting for your husband to get home, pick up the New York Times and go back to working on the crossword puzzle. Hmm, what is a six-letter word for a cookie with a geographical name? A Milano, of course.
The sound of the key turning in the lock distracts you from the crossword and you look up. Your husband has finally arrived, holding a paper bag of groceries. He hands you a bouquet of purple freesias, just because. You give him a quick kiss, and take the groceries into the kitchen. Take out the container of bocconcini cheese and the baguette, remembering to fill a vase with water for the freesias before carrying on with your recipe. The scent is dizzying.
Drain the bocconcini and mix it gently in the bowl with the tomatoes, onions, and basil. Whisk the oil and vinegar mixture again and drizzle it on top.
Serve with chunky slices of the baguette (a fine substitute for French bread). Pour a glass of wine for your husband and another one for yourself–you deserve it after all your hard work.
© Rosemary Gretton 2011