Last year, it was peaches. I was in Texas last summer, so I bought an entire crate of ripe scratch-and-dings from an orchard. I made peach-blueberry smoothies. Peach cobblers. Peach Popsicles.
When I couldn’t think of what else to do with them, I peeled and froze them.
Back in Paris this spring, I couldn’t wait to eat the strawberries, and I did, almost every day. The Gariguettes. Mara des bois. Charlotte. Sometimes I’d eat them chopped up with a spoonful of Greek yogurt, although that’s as fancy as I get with strawberries. Now they’re pretty much gone.
This year, I added apricots and raspberries to my biweekly market run, but I totally missed out on the cherries. As much as I love summer produce, I can’t help but feel like I’m running out of time before whatever it is that’s in season is gone. There is only one of me. I can only eat so much.
And now here we are at the end again, catching the final hurrah of the season’s offerings, and I’m scrambling to enjoy what I can. It’s not unlike finding a new, great book to read. You’re so excited at the beginning, and you continue on, sailing through the middle, when suddenly you realize it’s almost over, and then, every word, every page — or in this case, every bite — is bittersweet.
Even though it’s now possible to find many of summer’s stars in the grocery stores during the off-season, you know you won’t bite into a tomato sandwich that tastes quite like the one you can make right now, and you won’t taste a watermelon that’s as perfectly ripe until next year.
So let’s do it — while we still can.
Stuffed tomatoes with quinoa, farro and fresh herbs
Makes 4 servings
These tomatoes make a great side for barbecued anything — chicken, beef, pork, fish — or serve them in twos for a light summer dinner with a salad.
- 4 medium tomatoes (firm ones are best)
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa and farro (see note)
- 1/4 cup shredded pecorino cheese (you could also use Parmesan)
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko), plus about 1 tablespoon for baking
- 1 tablespoon almond slivers, toasted
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- Sea salt and pepper
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a small pan with parchment paper.
2. Slice off tops of tomatoes with a serrated knife and hollow out insides. Put all of the flesh and juices in a bowl, and refrigerate or freeze for a later use. Slice off a very small bit on the bottom of the tomatoes so they’ll sit without wobbling, and place on cookie sheet.
3. Make the stuffing: In a medium bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients. Stuff tomatoes and add a few breadcrumbs on top of each. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown.
Note: To make the quinoa/farro mixture, put 1/2 cup of each into 2 cups of salted boiling water. Turn the heat to a simmer and let cook until the grains are done and all of the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. You can do this in advance and refrigerate.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 119 calories, 4 grams fat, 17 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 4 milligrams cholesterol, 112 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber, 27 percent of calories from fat.
Fig salad with Gorgonzola toasts
Makes 2 dinner-size salads
This is a late-summer riff on the French classic bistro salad chèvre chaud, using Gorgonzola instead of goat cheese, and with figs — because we can.
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 4 ripe figs, quartered
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 pieces country bread
- 4 slices Gorgonzola (about 1/8 inch each)
- 5 ounces mesclun, or your favorite salad greens
- 4 figs, quartered
1. Put vinegar, shallot, mustard and salt and pepper in a small food processor and pulse a time or two. Add figs, pulse until pureed, then add oil and pulse until combined. Add as much water as needed for a pourable, vinaigrettelike consistency. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make the salad.
2. Heat oven to broil and line a small pan with parchment paper. Put bread on pan and bake until toasted on both sides. Put Gorgonzola slices on toasted bread and return to oven until the cheese melts.
3. Divide mesclun between two large plates. Put figs in the middle and two toasts on each. Drizzle vinaigrette over the top.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 648 calories, 39 grams fat, 70 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 26 milligrams cholesterol, 716 milligrams sodium, 10 grams dietary fiber, 51 percent of calories from fat.
Makes 4 servings
- 1 avocado
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 medium peaches
- Sherry vinegar
- Olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper
- 4.5 ounces fresh chevre
- Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn
- Handful of toasted almonds
1. Chop avocado, tomatoes and peaches into pieces roughly the same size and put them in a medium bowl. Add a splash of sherry vinegar and olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper and very gently toss. Taste for seasonings.
2. When ready to serve, add chevre, basil and almonds, then toss again tableside.
Cowgirl tip: Make this right before you want to serve it, so the peaches and tomatoes don’t get too watery and the avocados stay bright green.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 284 calories, 23 grams fat, 14 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 129 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber, 68 percent of calories from fat.
— From “Cowgirl Chef: Texas Cooking With a French Accent” by Ellise Pierce (Running Press)
Watermelon soup with feta-yogurt swirl
- 6 cups (48 ounces) watermelon, cut into chunks
- 2 slices stale bread, crusts removed
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup feta cheese (I used the kind in herby oil.)
- 1/2 cup Greek or full-fat yogurt
1. Put watermelon chunks in blender and puree. (I started with a blenderful and, once pureed, had 4 cups of liquid.) Add bread, vinegar and olive oil and puree. Refrigerate for a few hours.
2. Put feta and yogurt into food processor and pulse until it’s creamy and uniform. If it’s too thick, add a little water. Chill this, too.
3. When ready to serve, divide watermelon soup among 4 bowls (or 2 larger ones), and drizzle feta-yogurt on top.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 253 calories, 18 grams fat, 21 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 190 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 61 percent of calories from fat.