In the beginning, there was a single, baby heirloom tomato. My inspiration. And one I couldn’t stop capturing.
Then there were three.
Followed by multiple, multi-colored ones, falling from my makeshift basil ‘tree.’
Fine, there’s no such thing as a basil tree but the basil-tomato pairing–cleshay it may be– is one of the best around. I go a bit bananas this time of year when tomatoes– in varying colors, shapes and tastes–are overflowing in crates at the farmers markets. I want them all, deluding myself into thinking that hauling 5 pounds worth of these fruits back from the Dupont Farmers Market every Sunday is a physical effort that somehow makes sense. Oh, and will be pain and sweat free. Always in the moment. Always in the moment…
I opted to buy a pound of cherry tomatoes–easier on my herniated disc. After munching on a fair number of them, I was reduced–suddenly– to just a 1/2 pound. I had purchased some green beans from the endlessly-glorious Truck Patch Farm and also a few freshly-dug (farmers words, not mine!) multi-colored baby potatoes from Hills Forest Fruit Farm.
I just bought whatever looked good. I figured a recipe inspiration would come later based on my amazing raw materials.
It did. In the form of an Italian bean salad that my mother would make every summer during my *sniff* childhood many, many years ago. Her salad had cooked green beans, chunks of yukon gold potatoes, plum tomatoes–halved–with everything tossed together in a red wine vinaigrette and sprinkled with fresh basil. I decided to resurrect this memory, and give it a new life.
Out went the plum tomatoes–supplanted by the multi-colored cherry tomatoes. Ditto for the ‘all yukon gold approach,’ substituting a small handful of baby potatoes–purple, red and, yes, a few yellow. A quick blanch of the green beans (in retrospect, I would have liked to use multi-colored beans as well–yellow, purple…green). A simple vinaigrette and freshly-torn opal and genovese basil rounded out the color. And taste.
- 1/2 pound of multi-colored cherry tomatoes, halved with a serrated knife
- 1 pound of green beans, blanched for 1 1/2 minutes in boiling salt water and shocked in a bath of ice and cold water.
- 1/2 pound of small potatoes–multi-colored, if possible. Boiled until fork tender. Drained, cooled, each potato sliced into 4 parts
- 2 large handfuls of both opal (purple) basil and genovese leaves. If you can’t find opal basil, genoevese basil is fine.
- 1/4 cup of sherry vinegar (I used equal parts sherry and fig vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine ingredients in a plastic container or jar. Seal and shake.
1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Pour dressing over salad.
3. Toss. Taste. Adjust the seasonings. You may find that you’ll need more salt..more vinegar. The potatoes absorb a fair amount of the sodium so taste and adjust accordingly.
4. Tear basil into the salad. Toss. Serve.