What’s Cooking? In praise of summer salad


No matter the wild weather–drought parching the Southwest, flooding from Hurricane Irene’s march up the East Coast–it’s summer. Here in the southern Rockies, that means garden tomatoes are finally ripening in abundance. Our kitchen garden is blessed with a bumper crop of the seven heritage varieties we grew from seed last winter–yellow pear, costuluto, chianti rose, black krim, persimmon, and Pompeii roma, all from Renee’s Garden, plus Cherokee purple from Colorado’s own Botanical Interests. I’ve been looking for new recipes featuring fresh tomatoes.

So I was delighted when John Broening’s “Short Order” column in the Denver Post included a recipe for a fresh salad made of tomatoes, corn, green beans, and basil, all in season now. (Broening is the chef behind Denver’s wonderful Duo and Olivea restaurants.)

I clipped the recipe, intending to make the salad right away, but in the way of life–especially life with brain cancer–I didn’t get to it until friends invited us to dinner last week and I needed something inspired to bring. (Thanks, Susan and Jimmy!) Then of course I didn’t have everything in the original recipe, so I adapted it a bit. Still, it was delicious. In fact, I’ve already made another batch.

Here’s the recipe, with a deep bow of appreciation to John Broening:

In Praise of Summer Salad

1 pt cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved (I used halved yellow pear tomatoes, plus some chunked-up persimmons and chianti rose tomatoes, because that’s what we have most of right now)
1-1/2 cup sweet corn kernels, blanched on the cob and then shaved
6 oz green beans, blanched and cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
dozen leaves basil, washed and snipped into chunks
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T red-wine vinegar (I used a good italian one made from cabernet sauvignon grapes)
1/4 tsp red chile powder
pinch salt
freshly-ground pepper to taste
8 nasturtium flowers, washed and patted dry

Put tomatoes, corn, green beans, and onion in a salad-sized serving bowl. Cut basil over the top.

Tomatoesonion Greenbeans Cornbasil

Stir in olive oil, vinegar, chile powder, salt and pepper. Garnish each serving with a nasturtium flower or two. It’s beautiful, and it makes a great lunch with rustic bread and cheese, or a dinner served over warm rice or warm cheese tortellini. (Serves 4 for lunch, 6-8 for dinner over rice or pasta.)


On the brain cancer front: Richard was scheduled for a brain MRI in Denver today, but the equipment at the VA Hospital went down yesterday. So we’re waiting to hear if the radiology folks can fit him before his Thursday appointment with his oncologist, our last consult before leaving on our “honeymoon” road-trip on the 7th.

I confess to mixed feelings about peering into Richard’s brain right now. I’m not sure I want to know what the glioblastoma that has fingered its way throughout much of his right hemisphere is up to. It’s not that I lack courage, I just want a break from brain tumor news–at least temporarily, long enough to take our trip. (Sometimes ignorance is bliss. Okay, perhaps not bliss, but a release from the constant stream of informationt can feel almost blissful.)

Whatever happens, we’re determined to make the most of our time on the road, and to find joy in each day. How could we not? We’ll cruise across the inland West, ogling the spearing thrust of mountain ranges and the fragrant expanses of sagebrush desert, watching pronghorn chase cloud shadows and waterfalls tumble over cliffs. Then we’ll hug the coast, reveling in the restless beauty, the sheer power of that edge where ocean crashes up against land, the home of skyscraper-tall redwood trees and deep-diving otters, holding hands as we go…

We’re fortunate to be able to take this trip, and we know it. Fortunate, too, to have the support of this far-flung and dear community. Bless you all!