My family is in full swing with our summer reading contest. This has been going on for years, ever since my sister and I were old enough to get through a Curious George book on our own. She always took it a bit more seriously than I did and would make it through at least a half a dozen by the end of the summer, while I'd get through one or two. It wasn't until high school that I started getting competitive with her. After my senior year of high school, my parents took us to San Francisco for a week. While there is a lot that I remember from that trip (the Ghirardelli factory, walking through the Ferry Building Marketplace, dim sum in Chinatown), the two of us spent most of that trip with a book in front of our faces.
Between college and jobs and, you know, life, we've calmed things down a bit over the years. I no longer compete with my sister (a much faster reader than I am, I have no doubt she'll get through more books), but I still love this tradition. There have been recent years where I've only gotten through a couple. In the month of June, however, I managed to finish three. The first was a YA novel (I didn't know this until I'd already read a couple chapters and felt like it'd be the perfect book for a teenager) called Noggin. While the writing wasn't very challenging and the story wasn't terribly complex, the premise was creative and it had some strong characters. The second was The Girl on the Train, which I found to be an engrossing mystery. The last was The Dinner, which, like The Girl on the Train, is told in the first person.
I'm currently making my way through All the Light We Cannot See. I won't go into much detail about the plot, but I will say that the writing is some of the best, maybe the best, I've ever read. Every sentence is loaded with detail. That's not to say that it's verbose. Quite the opposite, in fact. Every word adds new depth to the experience, as if you're watching a painting or a photograph being developed before your eyes. It's a magnificent experience and I'm trying to take my time with the book so that I can savor it.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with tomatoes. Except that they both exist in the summer. I've been enjoying tomatoes in a variety of forms, but my favorite preparation is as a lightly dressed salad or sliced and served on top of rye bread. For this dish, I included garlic scapes two ways: in the dressing and simply sautéed. It's nothing revolutionary, but, hey, it works.
Heirloom Tomatoes with Garlic Scape and Basil Vinaigrette
2 lbs heirloom tomatoes
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped garlic scapes
1/4 cup basil, packed
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1. Cut tomatoes into wedges (four or five, depending on the size of the tomato) and transfer to a bowl.
2. Make the dressing by placing 1 cup chopped garlic scapes, the basil, vinegar, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt into a blender (or use an immersion blender). Blend until pureed.
3. Toss the tomato wedges with the dressing and set aside.
4. Set a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook remaining chopped garlic scapes for three minutes, or until slightly softened. Sprinkle on top of tomato salad.
5. Season salad with more salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.