Like these tomatoes. We had family over for dinner last Sunday. That morning I picked up gorgeous yellow tomatoes and heirloom red tomatoes at our local farmers' market. Have you ever had yellow tomatoes? They are a little sweeter than red tomatoes, and not as acidic. I love them!
For a side dish with our dinner, I sliced several of these perfectly ripened, fragrant tomatoes and layered them on a plate. Since basil and tomatoes are nature's soul mates, I arranged a handful of fresh basil leaves over the tomatoes. Just before serving I drizzled on my Balsamic Maple Sauce from ED&BV, and a pinch of sea salt and ground pepper. This sauce is thick and delicious, but a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar with a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper would be equally wonderful. But... don't dress the tomatoes and basil until you are ready to eat. Otherwise the salt and vinegar will draw the juices out of the tomatoes and wilt the basil (just like how you don't want to dress a salad until just ready to eat).
- crusty breads and a great quality olive oil. Place olive oil in small bowls with or without balsamic vinegar for dipping. Coarse sea salt is also quite nice for sprinkling.
- selection of olives
- seasonal produce left raw or lightly blanched, drizzled with oil or with a simple dip like hummus or raw aioli (I managed to squeeze my recipe for raw red pepper aioli in ED&BV for you just before going to print!)
- bowl of raw nuts, or...
- buy a big bag of mixed greens for a simple salad with just these greens (maybe a few cherry tomatoes) and some raw pine nuts, pecans, or walnuts tossed in.
- accentuate flavors in your meals with wedges of lemon or lime (ex: lemon juices with legume-based dishes and lime juice with spicy foods and entrees)
- big bowl of guacamole with lightly salted tortilla chips. My guacamole is always a huge hit, and it still surprises me because it is so darn simple! But, I don't think people make their own guac that often. I keep it very simple for guests, adding a good amount of fresh lemon or lime juice and salt to taste, and keeping some chunky texture. Keeping it simply seasoned with lemon juice and salt pleases everyone, without ingredients that might be unpleasant (or offensive) to some (ex: cilantro - you either love it or hate it!)
- grilled/roasted veggies. One of my favorite things to do is roast veggies. In the summer, chop things like zukes, mushrooms, bell peppers, shallots, and fennel and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pop it all on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake at about 400-450 for 40 minutes or longer until the veg are caramelized and golden brown. The flavors are just magnificent! Then, all you have to do is serve as a side dish, or toss into hot pasta, or into cold grains for a salad. Seriously great stuff!
These are just a few suggestions for quick and simple food pairings... what are some of yours?
Also, just a reminder that this is the last week for voting in the VegNews survey. I'm nominated for favorite cookbook author, favorite veg blog, and favorite column. Please vote for me in any (or all!) categories. Remember, you have a chance to win in this survey too (in case you need that extra push to complete the survey)! And, if you've already voted - my big thanks. I'd love to win, and each and every vote from you is important. Many thanks. :)