I’m just letting you all in on the lunch you and I can now have until the end of summer. Go ahead and have it all year long but right now this very month of the summer? It’s just right.
So many things are not just right, and frankly, I try hard not to make it my goal anymore to get it all right. Nevertheless, when things are a little off, I can get a bit cranky. But it’s okay, I’m telling myself. It’s ok not to get things right, AND it’s equally ok not to love it when things go awry.
Like the other day. My oven was on because an honest and lovely friend tried a recipe of mine, and it was a dry failure for her. Blast. I made it again to see if I could solve the problem. Maybe I missed something or could add a tip or two.
It’s ok, I told myself. I care about these things, and that’s okay.
Making a recipe for the nth time was a choice I made because I love to cook and share correct information, but the fact that my less than a year old air conditioner decided to malfunction on the very same day was not ideal. I just happened to hear the weather report, and a humid air mass was on its way. Hahaha. Well, it certainly was! Of course. It’s all gonna be okay, I repeated.
Tomatoes, basil, ricotta cheese, prosciutto, pine nuts with buttered toasts? More than just okay.
I imagined this lunch for a few days before I collected it onto this plate. I was looking for a light lunch to bring to the cabin with some friends a few weeks ago. I kept picturing blue skies, kind faces, a slight warm breeze off the lake and this lunch. It felt a little random, but a bits and pieces kind of lunch is random, in the best possible way.
I came home the next week and made it for a friend who is pretty much rocking the “it’s ok not to be ok” thing right now, even though her circumstances severely stink. This time an honest and empathetic afternoon with this lunch was the fit of the day.
And for the 3rd time, these very willing and hungry housemates gobbled it up asking for more.
It’s official: humans love this lunch.
The thing about just right is that it changes with seasons and circumstances though. Don’t waste another second in the grocery aisle trying to decide what to have on hand for lunch this week. It’s summer. Find yourself some tomatoes, as close as you can get to your home, and let it change your life–even if it’s just for a moment of gratitude in the midst of a cranky afternoon.
Here are some thoughts to get you started. Pull it apart, mix it up, and use your imagination. If it sounds good to you, I promise it will sound great to someone else.
|Tomatoes and Whipped Ricotta Plate|| || |
- 1 package of hand-dipped fresh ricotta (about 8 oz) - see note below
- 1 tablespoon of cream
- 1 lemon zested, divided in half
- ½ lemon squeezed and the other half cut into wedges
- salt and pepper
- 3 whole tomatoes sliced
- 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes - slice some and keep some whole
- ½ cup of hand-picked basil leaves
- ½ cup of pine nuts
- 3 oz of prosciutto
- 4 oz of sliced salami
- balsamic vinegar or this favorite balsamic vinaigrette
- Bread or baguette, gluten-free or not
- ½ stick of softened butter
- 1 large garlic clove peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- Whip together drained fresh ricotta and 1 tablespoon of cream. You can do this by hand or in a mixer.
- Add 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice and whip until smooth and creamy. Ricotta has a grain to it so it won't be butter smooth, but whip until combined and soft.
- If your mixture is dry add more cream a teaspoon at a time.
- Stir in ½ of lemon zest. Save the rest to sprinkle on top.
- Gently stir in ½ tsp of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Taste test. Add more lemon juice, salt, or pepper to taste.
- Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
- Place sliced and whole tomatoes on one end of your plate.
- Top with whole or julienne sliced basil leaves.
- Drizzle with a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or dressing.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Toss in your pine nuts.
- Every 30 seconds or so, shake around the pan or stir. Watch them carefully because they will burn quickly.
- After a couple of minutes, your pine nuts should be golden brown, slide pine nuts onto a plate to cool.
- Butter both sides of bread or baguette slices.
- Heat a large sautè pan over medium-high.
- Set your buttered bread slices into the hot pan and toast both sides until golden brown.
- Peel large garlic clove and cut in half.
- Rub the raw side of cut garlic on toasted bread slices.
- Place prosciutto, salami, and ricotta dish on a plate with prepared tomatoes. On the side offer a bowl of greens, extra balsamic vinegar or dressing, toasted pine nuts and buttered/garlic toasts.
- My favorite combinations: toast spread with ricotta, 1 fresh tomato slice and basil or toast with prosciutto and fresh tomato slice. Simple and delicious.