There are some truly triumphant moments in the life of a vegetable gardener that make all the digging, scrubbing of dirty fingernails, and dead/bolted mishaps worth every minute. You may have your own favorites, but mine are eating crisp, sugar-fresh peas right off the vine, tucking into a bowl of earthy, newly dug potatoes with their wispy skin and waxy flesh, and making lazy, simple salads from juicy, fragrant tomatoes plucked straight from an overladen branch – all the better if they are still warm from the summer sunshine.
Using some leftover heirloom tomatoes from a very generous friend’s garden, I decided to make these little pre-dinner morsels to go with a chilled 2007 Château d’Aquéria Tavel Rose. I’m not entirely sure this is worthy of a recipe, but it looked pretty and tasted like summer, so I had to share.
Makes about 8 spoonfuls or a light snack for 2 people.
2-3 slices day-old rustic or ciabatta bread
3 large heirloom tomatoes in contrasting colors
1 ball of burrata or buffalo mozzarella
handful of basil leaves, chiffonaded and a few tiny basil leaves from the top of the stem
extra virgin olive oil
aged balsamic or balsamic reduction
Japanese Soup Spoons to serve
Preheat oven to 425F. Carefully cut bread into 1/2″ cubes like tiny croutons. Toss with a little oil, place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown, checking frequently to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.
Cut tomatoes into 1/2″ cubes and set aside. Cut burrata or mozarella into 3/4″ squares.
To assemble, pour just enough olive oil into each spoon to coat the bottom. Carefully add a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Place a square of cheese on the spoon, and top with tomatoes, croutons and a few threads of basil or a couple of tiny basil leaves. Sprinkle with a little fleur de sel (or habanero salt for a spicy variation), and serve!
Serve on individual Japanese Soup Spoons or toss together like a mini-panzanella.