Huge zucchini–sliced very thinly and sauteed–then fanned into the caprese.

I’d like to say this little meal came up during my salad days.
But I can’t put that down without a little head tilt and one-sided smile.

From Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, 1606:
CLEOPATRA: My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then! But, come, away;
Get me ink and paper:
He shall have every day a several greeting,
Or I’ll unpeople Egypt.


Come the dog days of summer–ah, geez– I have times when the grill isn’t quite as appealing as it was in, say May when the heat began.  I’m more interested in what I can do with the vegetables from my neighbor’s garden or from the farmer’s market, or even from our own tiny patch–which is just tomatoes and herbs.  I just want to sit under the tree with a quick, cold meal, a bottle of wine, and my husband.  Making hay while the sun shines. Watching the grass grow.

Over this and the past couple of summers, I’ve made many kinds of caprese and blogged them on Dinner Place, too.  Once the tomatoes are good, I don’t get tired of caprese.  I might use leftover sliced pork tenderloin, chunks of picnic fried chicken, a little of Sunday’s bacon, or specially purchased beautiful prosciutto.   Here are a few of my caprese ideas blogged over the last year or so:

Caprese with Garlicky Shitakes
Caprese with Lemon Green Beans
Chicken BLT Caprese with Kalamata Olives
Alyce’s Linguine Caprese

 

Proscuitto Caprese with Toasty Brussel Sprouts and Parmesan Chips
Or Even Bacon Caprese with Beans...

I also adore a bowl of some sort of spicy olives with caprese.  Or you might add them to the platter for color and interest.  Grilled toasty bread is another lovely accompaniment so that you have the tender, sweet tomatoes along with the bite of the mild cheese against the crunch of the baguette.  Bread needn’t be the bad fellow it’s so often made out to be, particularly if it’s whole grain.

This most recent caprese meal is one I made to use the last hunk of a huge zucchini, which I sliced very thinly and sautéed briefly before fanning it between the other more usual components of the salad. I took it outside to the garden for its fast photo.  I had to hurry; we were hungry.  The table was set and the wine was poured.  Caprese doesn’t need much of a recipe, but you can try this:

big zuke caprese with orange haricots verts         serves 2

  • 1 very large tomato, cored and cut into 7-8 slices
  • 8-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced into 7-8 slices
  • 12 fresh basil leaves (approximate)
  • 12 thin slices of a large zucchini, sautéed in oil with salt and pepper (approximate)
  • Spicy Lemon Vinaigrette–recipe below
  • 2 cups cooked green beans with orange zest–directions below

Layer tomatoes, cheese, basil, and cooked zucchini on a medium platter — either in a straight line or in a circle.  Layers needn’t come out perfectly even; stick extra basil, for instance, in wherever it looks good. Season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with vinaigrette.  Add beans at sides or in center.

Spicy Lemon Vinaigrette:  Whisk well together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, a good pinch of salt, pepper, dried oregano and crushed red pepper.  Drizzle in slowly 1/2 cup olive oil and whisk until well-combined or thickened (emulsified.) Taste and adjust for seasonings. Store in a jar with a tightly-fitted lid for several days.

Orange Haricots Verts (skinny green beans):  Bring a medium pot of water to boil with a good pinch of fresh ground black pepper.  Add a pound of beans and cook 2-3 minutes or until just tender.  Drain quickly, but thoroughly.  Drizzle with a tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt, crushed red pepper, and just a bit more fresh ground black pepper.  Add about one tablespoon finely grated orange zest (or to taste) and toss well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  If using regular green beans, they’ll need to cook for several extra minutes.  Refrigerate extra beans in a refrigerator container for up to three days.  (Snack on them; they won’t last.)

Easy patio music from my iphone.

Wine:  Drink something quite cold and crisp here.  I like any rosé; it needn’t and shouldn’t be pricey.  Make sure it’s a 2012; you don’t want old rosé.  (My favorites are the very pale, oh-so-dry French ones. They might be a few bucks more.) If you’d rather a white, go with an unoaked, inexpensive Chardonnay or even a Viognier.   

Dessert:  Go out for ice cream.  You were so good; you deserve it!  It’s only summer once.

Just for fun, here’s a BBC2 video with Carol Klein about growing your own beans…. and other veg.

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Make the beans for this salad in one of these ways for a change or if you don’t like orange:

Just the same as the orange beans, but with finely grated lemon.  These are a favorite snack at our house.

OR:

These beans, the larger sort, are steamed and then sauteed with butter, garlic and shallots.
While nearly totally off subject, these are my victory garden neighbor’s sweet peas.  Love them!

Sing a new song and take a look at the first cover wonderful artist Dan Craig has sent of my book AND CHECK OUT WHAT’S NEW ON DINNER PLACE…
Alyce

It won’t be long now; the book’s almost ready.  She said.
. . . .

ON DINNER PLACE THIS WEEK:

Breakfast Zucchini-Basil Boat

One big, scooped out zucchini filled with scrambled eggs, onions, basil, tomatoes+cheese.  Breakfast on the porch Just add newspaper + coffee.

Just for fun, take at look at the LA Times, who published the above photo on #weekendeats  !!!