Signs of hope are beginning to spring up all around us.
There's hope in the American flag, raised by firefighters on top of a charred and barren mountain.
There's hope written on the driveways and twisted sidewalks that wind through annihilated neighborhoods where houses once stood. In one driveway, someone created a giant heart out of the blackened, broken bricks of their home. On the sidewalk down the street, written in ashy soot, are the words "WE WILL REBUILD."
There's hope in that herd of cattle which couldn't be evacuated in time. Frantic ranchers drove their trucks through every fence they could find, hoping to make an escape route. Days later the entire herd was found together on the deserted street below, thirsty but alive and well.
There's hope in the sweet smell of rain wafting through the open window as I write this.
Perhaps the story which pulls hardest at my heart, though, is that of a man who lost his father the very morning of the fire. Can you even fathom trying to pack and evacuate with that on your mind, your heart? Fate can be so, so cruel. His home burnt to the ground that night, along with each and every treasured memento of his father. Yet, behind the desolate ruins of his house he was amazed to find his vegetable garden unscathed, green, and thriving - watered, no doubt, by the very same fire hoses used to fight the raging beast. His tomatoes were ripe and ready to be picked.
As the signs of hope and life begin to emerge from the ashes, so my appetite begins to return. Therefore, in honour of the man who lost everything except his tomatoes, I share my favourite tomato recipe. It's a simple Marinated Tomato Salad, the perfect summertime dish when the garden is bursting with sun-ripened tomatoes.
(In case you're wondering what on Earth happened here last week, here's a glimpse of the Hellish Inferno which invaded my city last Tuesday.)
Marinated Tomato Salad
adapted from Joie de Vivre, by Robert Arbor
4 - 6 medium mixed variety heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, pushed through a press or finely minced
a pinch of salt and pepper
1 Tbsp fresh basil
In the bottom of your serving bowl whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cut each tomato into 6 - 8 wedges. Toss the tomatoes in the vinaigrette and tear the basil on top. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours. Serve.
This really is best served within 4 - 6 hours. Don't make it the day before, as the tomatoes begin to break down and become watery. However, if you have leftover tomato salad, here's what I do for a delicious lunch the next day . . .
Tomato Panzanella Salad
1 - 2 slices of good whole-grain bread or baguette, cut into cubes
Salt and pepper
a pinch of mixed dry herbs (such as Italian Seasoning or Herbes de Provence)
Leftover Marinated Tomato Salad
Bocconcini (mini Fresh Mozzarella cheese balls - I like the ones that are marinated and packed in olive oil)
Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C). I do this in the toaster oven. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and herbs. Toss to coat all the cubes. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once half way through, until golden. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Cool. When ready to serve, toss the bread cubes and cheese with the tomatoes. Serve immediately.
Shared with: Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Foodie Friday at Simple Living, Not Your Ordinary Recipes, Freedom Fridays, Weekend Potluck, Summer Salad Sundays, Melt in your Mouth Monday, Mangia Mondays, Hearth and Soul, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday