Remembrance of Meals Past

To Proust, the most evocative food may have been the madeleine. But for me, there is no delight comparable to basil and dill fresh from the garden, with homegrown tomatoes running a close second. Last summer’s bounty brought plenty of both, and looking back at some of the highlights fills me with inspiration and anticipation as the new season begins:

Wild- caught salmon (left) is so much tastier than farmed. But grilled outdoors and topped with freshly made pesto, it can’t be beat. And the butterfly bushes right next to the grill create the feeling of a leisurely country retreat, even though we’re literally inches from the city sidewalk.

Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for this gorgeous salad (above, right). A friend made it from a recipe by Melissa Clark in the New York Times. (To see the Times’s photo, click here.) But it certainly was a highlight of the summer, with fresh figs, pine nuts, tomatoes, spring greens, blue cheese, and sprigs of thyme on top. I think I had three servings.

My husband created this succulent salsa (left) from fresh New Jersey corn, carrots, chili powder, lime, nectarines, and cayenne peppers (from our garden). The nectarines’ sweet flesh, combined with the bite of the peppers, was a dynamite combination. Although he whipped it up to go with grilled tilapia, we decided it was good enough to eat by itself.

Soup is normally loaded with salt. But this rustic tomato soup (above, right; private recipe from Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD) has no added salt beyond that in the low-sodium broth! The secret: start with plenty of herbs and spices in the pot for a little kick (onions, minced garlic, fresh basil, and crushed red pepper flakes, along with the broth and a pile of fresh, chopped tomatoes)–then add a distinctive finish, with a swirl of balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped basil.

Edible pansies added a colorful splash to this salad (right). Mixed with organic baby kale, some of my own cherry tomatoes (above), and heirloom peanuts(!), they created a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds.

Related link: Pesto!

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