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Late Summer Tomatoes
“The afternoon was golden, for the yellow dust in the sky gilded the light.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
The last shards of summer are heaped in a pile waiting for my attention. I have made excuses. Not enough time, out of town visitors, trips north and south along the coast, a migraine and it’s flattening aftermath. I could make a longer list; but truly it’s all about summer. The months of September and October are traditionally what we call our Indian Summer. The dismal grey fog disappears mid morning and we are blessed with the glorious warmth and sparkling light of sunny days. The fog stayed late this year and our Indian Summer was just a mirage the entire month of September. How can we be ready for fall when summer just arrived? I marvel at pounds of ripe tomatoes, harvested inland, in the heat. Like shards of broken pottery, I hold onto the remnants of a greater thing, a summer almost missed.
We traveled inland, to Hollister to pick tomatoes at Mariquita Farm. I crushed Early Girl’s in their own juice and made sauce with San Marzanos. Canning my own tomatoes is more of a luxury than necessity but homemade really does taste better. I couldn’t pass by the heirlooms and cherry tomatoes. For the first time I tried Momotaro tomatoes. Sweet, firm and just a bit tangy, these were my favorite.
Until the rains begins, there will be tomatoes to harvest. In October the vines are still heavy with fruit and the tiny cherry tomatoes that were the sweet darlings of early summer will be ignored for the glut of larger, robust late season fruit. I have the perfect salad for the tiny cherry tomatoes that are all but forgotten. The sweetness of the freshly sliced tomatoes mingles with the vinaigrette and bathes the tender orzo in the last of summer’s lush warmth. A salad for holding onto the last days of an Indian Summer as they tumble into autumn. I have made this salad with crumbled fresh ricotta and without any cheese; both are equally fabulous. But adding the tangy feta is my favorite.
|1/4 C||rice wine vinegar|
|2C||halved, cherry tomatoes|
|1C||sliced English cucumber|
|2||green onions, thinly sliced|
|7oz||feta cheese, crumbled|
- Begin heating the water to cook the orzo. While the water heats prepare the vinaigrette. Pour the rice wine vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, add the agave nectar, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined, set aside.
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions, 7-9 minutes, drain thoroughly. Place the warm orzo in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette to the bowl and stir to coat the all the orzo with the dressing. Adding the dressing while the orzo is warm will keep the pasta from sticking together and the dressing will soak into the little orbs of pasta. Add the frozen peas and combine.
- While the orzo cools, prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, green onions and parsley. When the orzo has cooled to room temperature gently add the vegetables and crumbled feta. Best served at room temperature the day the salad is prepared. Although leftovers will quickly disappear.