Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

I think that this dish, to me, means that summer is really and truly here (as if I couldn't tell by the waves of 95 degree days). Since there are only five ingredients, be sure to use the best tomatoes you can find (or grow). My parents make this pretty much every weekend during the summer -- but since I couldn't be at home sitting on the porch, I made it for myself as a quick lunch last weekend. The recipe can be amended depending on how many people you are feeding, and also makes an excellent appetizer for an easy dinner al fresco. Just serve with a chilled rosé and imagine you are sitting on a terrace somewhere in Italy.

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta

2 lbs (about 4-5 large) tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup basil leaves, julienned

Salt and pepper

1 baguette, thinly sliced

1/4 cup olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic, minced

Mix tomatoes and basil in a medium bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk olive oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Lay baguette slices on a baking sheet, and with a pastry brush, brush each slice with garlic & olive oil mixture. Roast until golden brown, about 8 minutes (watch closely as they burn easily). Let cool slightly, then top each piece with a spoonful of tomato mixture. Serve immediately.

Corn and Tomato Salad

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After a lovely and relaxing few days spent on the North Fork of Long Island, I was lucky enough to return to temperatures topping 100 degrees back in Brooklyn. So much for escaping the heat -- and as someone without air conditioning, I'm sitting right in front of my fan while writing this, and will likely take my second shower of the day when I finish this post. Ah well. This salad just happens to be perfect for days like today, with minimal cooking times and quick assembly.

 

Corn and Tomato Salad

7 ears sweet corn

2 large tomatoes, diced, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2 red onion, finely chopped, or 5 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

1/4 cup basil, julienned

1 jalapeño, finely chopped (optional)

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

On a grill, roast sweet corn until slightly charred, about 4 minutes per side. (Alternatively, you can roast the corn in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or boil on the stove for 10 minutes). Cut corn kernels off into a large bowl. Mix with tomatoes, onions, chives, and basil. In a small bowl or glass, mix lime juice, olive oil, and vinegar, and pour over salad, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

 

Insalata Caprese

The first time I ever had this salad was when I was 16 and traveling in Italy with my family. I vividly remember sitting in a small trattoria in Vernazza, the bright red tomatoes bursting with flavor in my mouth, their sweet juices offset by the creamy mozzarella and sharp basil. Of course, I had eaten raw tomatoes before, but had never liked them much. But there was something about this combination of flavors that changed my mind for good, and since then I have loved tomatoes in salads, pastas, even plain with a little salt. Be sure to only use the best tomatoes you can find -- this is not a salad for winter, since there are only a few flavors it really gives them a chance to shine. Insalata Caprese

2 large tomatoes (beefsteak or heirloom), sliced

8 oz mozzarella, sliced

10-12 basil leaves

2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

On a large plate, layer one slice tomato, one slice mozzarella, and one basil leaf. Repeat with remaining slices to form a circle around the edge of the plate. Drizzle vinegar and olive oil over salad, and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.