Set Yourself Up with Summer

Simple Pantry Stock Tips

Summer Produce on Worktable_112I took these shots last Thursday, when we’d just come home from the Marin farmers’ market, and the seasonal abundance in all that we’d found there was already filling me up with joy. Tasting our way through samples of all the ripe peach, nectarine and heirloom tomato varieties on offer had definitely primed the pump, and now our overflow of purchases was finding its way from bulging baskets into the awaiting fridge and worktable bowls. Everything carefully placed to keep track of for inspiring creations yet to come.

“Set Yourself Up with Summer”, continued:

There was more, of course, what with all the other fruits and different kinds of vegetables we pine for the rest of the year and had made sure to stock up on now. But I want to focus here on the juicy tree and vine ripened peaches, nectarines, tomatoes and peppers that shout “Summer!” in the sweetest possible and most natural way. And then there’s always the necessity for that best fresh bread to keep our bellies grounded every day the whole year round.

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What you see above here are Purple Cherokee, Marvel Stripe, Red Brandywine, Black Prince, and Early Girl Tomatoes. Those are white peaches in front of them, then both white and yellow nectarines behind the breads below (my favorite stone fruit varieties change each week as they develop, so taste before deciding).

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The line-up of stellar breads from Della Fattoria features a currant-walnut boule and mini-loaves with each one holding polenta, Kalamata olives, or Meyer lemon and rosemary essence inside.

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And this rainbow of sweet peppers includes both thin-skinned gypsy and carmen varieties, as well as the meatier pimiento globes.

Keeps:

Like melons, it’s best to store tomatoes, peaches and nectarines at room temperature for developing their fullest flavor. I never put tomatoes in the fridge, because they will typically last up to a week anyway. But after a few days, you may need to refrigerate quicker ripening peaches and nectarines to put that process on hold for a few more days.

Traditional slower-rise natural yeast breads can last up to a week at room temperature, when wrapped in paper or cloth (not plastic), so they can breath. They might need toasting along the way to refresh, but at least you won’t be losing them to mold. And if you know right off you won’t make it through the whole loaf in time, immediately cut off a fresh section to freeze for later use.

Peppers will last an easy week in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Possible Uses:

When they’re fresh and fully ripened, all of these goodies can be eaten right out of hand without any excuses required. Then the ongoing list of possible creations with them is endless, but here are some of my personal favorites (with related links listed below).

  • Great tomatoes can practically dress a salad all by themselves. But try my Casual Recipe for an instant Tomato Vinaigrette, the concept of which will also Amuse Your Mouth in my Tomato Tapenade Toasts (the big loaf of bread you see pictured at the bottom of that post is one my husband made!). And then you can always Slow-Roast meatier Roma or Italian plum varieties for the frozen pantry stock I depend on year round.
  • Especially when you know they won’t make it another day, either peel and purée your surplus peaches and/or nectarines with just a little lemon juice and sugar to taste, and then freeze that heavenly nectar in ice cube trays to bag up to later dose glasses of rosé or bubbly for a summery apèritif any time of year — or — bake up your super-ripe peaches and/or nectarines into a simple fruit crisp to easily feed a crowd or share generous servings with your friends and neighbors. Don’t forget the Straus Organic Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to seal the deal!
  • Simply sauté, roast or stuff and bake thin-skinned peppers; fire-roast thicker-skinned varieties to peel first before using in cooked dishes. You can find out more about roasting all these seasonal vegetables in my Casual Recipe for Saving Summer.
  • Take advantage of fresh bread crumbs ground from at least one day-old bread for stuffing either tomatoes or peppers. (And keep some of those crumbs handy in your freezer for ready use on another day.)
  • Celebrate the season by transforming your crop of tomatoes into soul-satisfying Grape Harvester’s Soup, as we reap the bounty and save some of all these gifts for later. Like the classic French Onion Soup, this hearty dish demands du bon pain (great bread), so either get thee to the farmers’ market or go directly to Della Fattoria (which is at 141 Petaluma Boulevard North in Petaluma, right across the street from Thistle Meats, which I wrote about last time). Yes, we are so lucky to live here.

Bon Appetit! Kay

Related Links:
My Casual Recipe for Tomato Vinaigrette
My Casual Recipe for Tomato Tapenade Toasts
My Casual Recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes
My Casual Recipe for Saving Summer
My Casual Recipe for Grape Harvesters’ Soup
Della Fattoria website

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