Yesterday, watermelon, heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers looked juicy and ripe at the farmers market. There were little tastings offered and they were full flavored. It was evident that the produce was picked at peak ripeness. Ripening on the vine makes a big difference compared to supermarket vegetables , which are picked green and left to finish its ripening process in a packaged, climate-controlled environment. The color changes but the flavor tends to stay grassy-green and boring unless it's a gene manipulated variety where that flavor flatness was combated in the laboratory—that’s done in the seed stage before it hits the ground. A quick fix but nothing heirloom here. Most of the time farmers market vegetables are never put into refrigeration since they are picked a few hours before they show their vibrancy at the market. It's as if that catapults flavor and you're able to taste the sun.
In summer when it is hot like it is currently, our bodily functions naturally tend to slow down. Siestas that are taken in very hot countries all of a sudden make sense.
Personally, I don't feel like eating much animal protein during hot days. It makes me feel way to weighty in the stomach. I recommend a salad focused on fruits or vegetables or often a combination like in the following recipe.
Watermelon, Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Bread Croutons
(recipe yields four portions)
2 cups prepped sourdough bread, 1-inch dice cup
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper grindings from the mill, to taste
sea salt, to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon black chia seeds, optional
2 cups prepped cucumbers, 1-inch dice cut
2 cups prepped heirloom tomatoes, 1-inch dice cut
2 cups prepped watermelon, 1-inch dice cut
5 large basil leafs, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1) With a knife cut bread then toss in a bowl with oil, salt and pepper. Put the bread on a sheet pan and toast in a 350F hot oven for 10 minutes. Croutons should have toasted-brown color, if not toast for 3 more minutes.
2) In the bowl combine olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and mix with a whisk vigorously.
3) Peel and cut cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon. Rinse and cut basil. Add chia seeds.
4) In the dressing bowl combine prepped vegetables, melon and basil and toss throughout.
Chefs Note: Chia seeds have a terrific omega-3 fatty acids value, which is good for overall body health. In addition the seeds soak up the bottom-pooling salad juices and make it cling to the vegetables.
Chef's Note: For a more substantial version of the salad toss 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese into the mixture.