And that, my friends, is true love and homegrown tomatoes, both of which I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this week. I won’t bore you with the sappy true love part. But the homegrown tomatoes I just had to talk about.
I helped my girlfriend build up a vegetable garden in the backyard a couple months ago, and we are finally getting to enjoy the fruits of that labor. Every few days, we pull cherry and grape tomatoes off the plants, tug prickly cucumbers from the vines, and cut adorable jalapenos for salsa and guacamole.
I’m very new to gardening. I’ve grown herbs before in boxes on my apartment balcony, but growing an actual patch of earth, growing plants that would yield vegetables fit for human consumption – that’s new to me. I’m just enjoying the mess out of it.
A week ago, we received sweet potato plant roots from Burpee. We went out that evening, scouted a new patch of yard, and dug the dirt, moving it into small mounded rows to plant our sweet potatoes in. This is new for both of us, and each time we go out to water the plants, we check those little sweet potatoes, hoping that at least a few of those plants take and that we get beautiful sweet potatoes in a few months.
The problem, of course, and one that we haven’t even seen the full effects of yet, is that when you grow vegetables, you end up with an abundance of vegetables. And as much as I like slicing up tomatoes, drizzling with oil and vinegar, and adding some salt and pepper, you have to find ways to shake it up. We had a heap of tiny tomatoes, the first real haul of the season, and three cucumbers. We needed salad.
And that’s what I made. It’s simple, a versatile recipe, one that is strictly a “to taste” affair. Add or subtract as you see fit, and enjoy the crisp freshness of summer’s vegetable offerings.
Tomato Cucumber Salad
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
Cherry tomatoes (I used 6 larger cherry tomatoes and a good handful of small grape tomatoes)
3 basil leaves, cut into strips
1 sprig parsley, leaves removed and chopped
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Slice cucumbers into 1/2″ slices. Halve the tomatoes. Toss together in a bowl. Sprinkle herbs on top.
2. Whisk together wine, balsamic, oil, and honey. Pour over tomato and cucumber mixture and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least an hour, preferably overnight.