Friday, June 19, 2015

Getting My Summer Tomato Fix

Summer is in full swing at The Little Lake House. The garden is growing well and loving the rain and warm temperatures. We are enjoying our second round of radishes, lots of lettuce and herbs, and patiently waiting for the real joys of summer gardening- peppers and tomatoes. Although the first tomatoes of the garden haven't ripened just yet, heirlooms are available at farmers markets all over. Of course I had to get some.

Since returning to work I thought I'd miss out on most of the farmers markets around. It's a long haul back home to my neck of the woods on farmers market day just to find all the good stuff has been sold. I had no idea that the farmers market would come to me- but that's exactly what has happened. The company I work for is very focused on creating a positive and healthy environment for employees and they have organized a farmers market on the campus every week. I just couldn't be more thrilled. Beautiful fresh produce is such a huge part of our diet, especially in the summer months, and fit perfectly into tonight's dinner.

I mentioned tomatoes. This year in the garden we have an interesting variety or heirloom tomatoes growing. Almost all of them are cherry type, or small tomatoes. Chocolate cherry tomatoes, Gold Nugget, Indigo Rose and Indigo Blue Berries are all new to us. Yellow pear berries and good old red cherry tomatoes complete our tomato crop. I chose these tomatoes because of their colors and flavors. What an interesting pico de gallo, salad and salsa they will make, not to mention great eating off the plant while enjoying breezy evenings on the deck. 

I'm a firm believer in salads as a main course. You don't need a heavy dinner every night, don't need meat or dairy products like cheese. A big bowl of fresh vegetables sprinkled with a light dressing and not overloaded with pasta or grain is exactly the kind of salad I'm looking for. I am all about vinaigrettes. It's hard to beat this dressing for maximum flavor and minimal fat. Get rid of that ranch and commercial dressing- make your own in seconds with ingredients you probably have in the cupboard.

Summertime Cous Cous Salad

1 1/2 cups cous cous (I used Trader Joe's whole wheat cous cous)
1 1/2 cups water
pinch of salt
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (I used half yellow and half orange)
6 scallions, sliced
2 cups mixed small tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 cup chopped mixed olives
handful Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar (I used my own chive infused- use whatever kind you like)
6 tablespoons olive oil
juice of one half lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the water to boil in a small saucepan. Add the cous cous, stir, cover and let sit off the heat for 5 minutes.

Combine the vegetables in a large salad bowl. In a jar combine the mustard, vinegar, oil and lemon juice. Shake well to combine. Set aside.

When the cous cous has absorbed all the water, fluff with a fork and toss with the vegetables. Drizzle half the dressing over; toss well. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Toss again. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

You don't need meat to get your fill with a salad like that! Fill up on colors with all those veg- and switch it up every time you make it and it's like a new dish each time. Use what's in season and fresh and you'll never go wrong. Later in the summer when I make this again I'll add a little bit of fresh hot hot hot pepper to add a kick and warm things up.

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