Season of sunsets and tomatoes, eggplant and basil and peaches and melons, hot sun and long evenings and coals in a barbecue. In the garden, the vines sprawl in abundance. Pumpkins grow oranger, zucchini grows everywhere, and the sunflowers tower overhead. Branches bow beneath the weight of plenty. It’s August, the sweltering heat of summer, and the heat of the sun, though it wilts the leaves midday, is infusing sweetness into everything that grows. We don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, but we want to eat well, to taste the season in our mouths, to smell the tomato vines and fragrant basil leaves when we go out to harvest, and feel the warmth of the day lingering in the eggplant we pick for the evening meal, and perhaps to enjoy a cold glass of something light and lovely. Nothing lasts forever, and right now, we are not even pretending that it might; there are no preservation recipes in this issue of the journal, just simple and sometimes surprising, delicious, seasonal food. It is more than enough.
Try this: roast eggplant directly over hot coals, or over a gas burner. Whole, gleaming, purple-black and elegant, the eggplant reveals succulent secrets in fire.
Tomatoes are the iconic summer vegetable, and tomato soup is not a revelation. Mint and Tomato, though. That was a new one for us. This recipe is perfectly balanced between red and green, warm and cool, summer sun and cool minty shade. There’s a flavor that lingers at the back of the mouth, a question that needs another spoonful to resolve. And another. Until the bowl is empty, and the spoon clinks to rest, and the belly is satiated, but the tongue is still wondering, searching for just a little more of this new and wonderful thing.
It’s the herbs that star in this flavorful bean salad, or is it the roasted red peppers? The toasted spices, the silky oil, the green beans themselves, warm and crunchy, intensely flavored? Is it possible that ALL of these things are the star, that this dish is, in fact, a bowl of stars? Yes, we are getting a bit metaphysical, and perhaps it is time to come back to earth. Still, the flavors are simply stellar in this bean salad recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
And for thirst, there is this. To quench, to cool, to satisfy.
In the garden, the season is in full swing. Emergency pruning, wedding harvests, baskets of zucchini, and more. Take a walk through the wild greenery with us, in the Garden Notes.
We had a great time at the Santa Cruz Fermentation Festival last month, with a presentation on Fermented Grilled Stonefruit Chutney, the prettiest little ferment you ever did see. We saw old friends and made new ones, and drank the fermented beverages, and ate the amazing cornbread and tacos from the Burn Kitchen. The breeze blew and the sun shone and the bands played. If you missed it this year, you’ll want to be sure to make it next year!
And speaking of things you will not want to miss, don’t forget that we still have some spaces in our Tomato class, coming up on August 11th. This class at the store, held in partnership with the Santa Cruz Farmer’s Markets, will get you a flat of tomatoes and a supply of canning jars, delivered right to the class location. Get your start with water-bath canning and fill up your pantry with jars of tomatoes to enjoy all year long! Register online.
We hope you’re enjoying the summer, the sweetness, and heat, the moments that flit by like tastes on the tongue. Nothing lasts forever, but a jar of peak tomatoes, properly water-bath canned, can last a year on a pantry shelf.
This journal and the articles in it were written by Jessica Tunis, unless otherwise noted.