In the best of all possible worlds …
But this isn’t that year, it seems, at least in this part of the Willamette Valley.
The peach crop has been sparse, thanks to bad weather when the trees were in bloom. Some varieties haven’t been seen at the market at all; others are small, buggy or expensive.
Sweet corn is around, but not by the usual truckloads, and not at the usual prices. I’m seeing corn priced at 5 ears for a dollar, double what it was last summer.
And tomatoes? Sloooooooow to ripen, both in back-yard gardens and, evidently, on the farms. The six tomato plants in my own garden, all different heirloom varieties, are loaded with fruit, but only one of them – a Black Plum – has produced any ripe tomatoes yet. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping they’ll ripen in the next couple of weeks, before the rain starts up or the nights get frosty.
But woudn’t you know it: today’s Albany market finally had a great selection of tomatoes, including lots of big, ripe heirloom varieties – and I was in no position to buy, because I’m heading out of town for a nine-day vacation in Seattle. Now’s the time to eat the produce on hand, not stock up on more.
Besides, a friend whose wife has better gardening prowess than I do dropped off a bag of mixed cherry tomatoes last night, and they need to be eaten before I leave town on Monday.
At this time of year I crave tomato sandwiches. Bread, tomatoes, mayonnaise, maybe a little black pepper or a bit of minced basil = heaven. As much as I like a good cherry tomato, you can’t make a decent sandwich from them, because the little suckers keep squirting out from between the slices of bread.
So I settled for the next-best thing: A BLT salad.
I don’t know why you’d need a recipe for this, but here’s one, anyway.
- 1 thick slice of slightly stale artisan bread, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces. (I used a some leftover roasted garlic bread from Big River restaurant in Corvallis that a friend had brought to my Labor Day barbecue.)*
- Olive oil
- Lettuce, torn in bite-sized pieces*
- Cherry tomatoes. Small ones can stay whole; if they’re more than a mouthful, slice them in half.*
- 2 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled*
- Real mayonnaise. Helman’s/Best Foods is canonical. Make your own if you’re feeling adventurous
- 3-4 leaves of fresh basil, minced*
- Black pepper
Toss the bread in a little olive oil. Wrap it in foil and put it in a 350F oven while you cook the bacon (10-15 minutes).
On a plate, layer lettuce, toasted bread, tomatoes and bacon. Top with a spoonful of mayonnaise, scatter basil over the top and finish with a generous grinding of black pepper.
* Locally grown or made ingredients