The morning after we arrived home from our vacation, my youngest son bolted out into our backyard. Within moments, I heard him call, “Mum, Mum, come quick! Look, look!” As I tripped out the door, images of dead animals, hills of red ants, and wasp nests immediately sprang to mind. However, when I ran to where my son was standing, he was pointing delightedly at our tomato plant. Indeed, two bright red tomatoes shone out of the depths of the green leaves. Let me tell you, that’s a heck of a lot better than an insect infestation! My son promptly plucked the two tomatoes from the plant and ran inside to place them on his lunch plate. Lucky for me, he was in a sharing mood and decided to pop one into my mouth just as lunch started. As I bit down, the sweet juices burst into my mouth and I was greeted with the true taste of summer. Our appetites were whetted, but our garden had no more tomatoes to offer. Thankfully, the grocery store obliged. Okay, their tomatoes didn’t hold a candle to the ones fresh from our garden, but they were good enough to act as pinch-hitters in this fresh, summer-inspired salad.
Cut 1 pound of cherry, grape, or mini Roma tomatoes in half. Okay, you better make it more than one pound because if you’re anything like me, you’ll pop at least a dozen tomatoes into your mouth before they even hit the bowl.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a bowl and add the green beans. Blanch the beans for 2-4 minutes, depending on the size of your beans. Test them along the way to make sure they don’t become overcooked. You want tender-crisp, with an emphasis on the “crisp”.
Drain the beans and immediately rinse with very cold water. Alternatively, you can dunk them into a bowl of ice water.
Beautiful bright green, aren’t they? A little different than your grandmother’s overcooked, grayish green beans. Well, my grandmother’s beans anyways. I loved my Granmum dearly, but vegetables were not her strong suit. However, she was the only woman I ever knew to nurture an injured baby hummingbird back to health. Pretty cool.
Mix the cooked green beans and the tomatoes together in a large bowl. Nature’s paint palette.
Add 1 cup of bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls) or cut fresh mozzarella into bite-sized pieces.
Drizzle about 3 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil over top and mix gently. The olive oil is the only dressing, so make sure that it’s a top-quality, flavorful olive oil. An aromatic, fruity olive oil can make the difference between a good salad and one that will require a moment of reverential silence.
Roll together 8-10 large basil leaves and chiffonade them (slice thinly). Mix them into the salad. Serve and enjoy the fresh flavors.