Happy August everyone!
Welcome to the heart of summertime. You probably know by now that I'm a big supporter of going with the flow of the season, one season at a time. That's because noticing the season helps me to be present to the here and now. There's the hot summer sun forcing me to slow down, the delight of a cool of a breeze on the back of my neck, the colorful abundance of flowers and plants blooming in city tree beds and local gardens.
These days you might practice being present by really taking in that first chilly drop into the local swimming pool. Or pause to sense how the grass feels under your bare feet in the park. Or what about savoring a chilled glass of lemonade today and taking your time to notice the delicious combination of tartness and sweetness in your mouth? Ahh, the present moment can be so refreshing.
Just as appreciating the season helps our minds and bodies be present to the here and now, eating seasonally, and locally, supports our health and nutritional needs for that season. This means eating produce that's in abundance this month is a natural way to stay healthy. Plus, it tastes amazing because it’s usually fully ripened and harvested at just the right time to make it from the farm to your hand without spoiling. As Oprah says: "Summer has a flavor like no other. Always fresh and simmered in sunshine."
Below is my Go-To Summer Salad from Love & Lemons. It's full of heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh mint. With the addition of chickpeas, yogurt, and pita bread, this Heirloom Tomato Fattoush is hearty enough to be a complete meal. I tend to share the wonders of this meal with anyone who crosses my path in the summer, so, if I've already given this to you- take this email as a reminder to enjoy this salad tonight. Please let me know how you and your family like it.
HEIRLOOM TOMATO FATTOUSH
by Jeanine Donofrio of Love & Lemons
2 whole-wheat pitas, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cucumber, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced into 1-inch wedges
1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Pinches of red pepper flakes
Tahini, for drizzling (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the pita and the chickpeas on separate baking sheets and toss each with a drizzle of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper. Bake the pita until toasted, about 8 minutes. Roast the chickpeas until golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes. When the chickpeas are out of the oven, toss with the paprika and set aside.
In the bottom of a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the sherry vinegar, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Add the red onion and toss to coat. Add the cucumber, tomatoes, another sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss and set aside for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt.
Assemble the salad by spreading the yogurt on the bottom of a serving dish. Pile on the tomato-cucumber mixture, leaving behind some of the juices if it seems too watery, then add the pita, chickpeas, fresh mint, and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and season to taste.
Top with a drizzle of tahini, if desired. If your tahini is too thick, add a bit of water to thin.