Kitchen gadgets can be a lot of fun, but when it comes right down to it, I believe the most important tool to have in a well-stocked kitchen is the best, sharpest knife you can afford. This weekend at the Texas Farmers' Markets, I had the opportunity to partner with Allan Hillegass of Padlock & Co to demonstrate proper knife skills, as Allan discussed the best ways to select, utilize, and care for good knives.
Well, I've been fan-girling on Padlock & Co's hand-forged Damascus steel knives since they joined the market over a year ago. Though I have a few nice, heavy German-made knives hanging on my knife rack, I have a little jar in my kitchen into which I tuck my spare change, saving up for the day when I can purchase my own heirloom quality tool like those from Padlock. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed using Allan's handiwork this weekend to create this No-Cook Summer Sauce with Tomato And Mozzarella. The secret to it's tasty success lies in the blade-- the better the knife, the better the sauce, in that small, uniform cubes of vegetables make this dish as pleasing to eat as it is to prepare.
A gorgeous bounty of vegetables arrives this month at the market, and there's no better way to showcase their seasonal burst of flavor than to prepare them simply, and without a lot of fuss. This sauce is a great way to approach a meatless meal when tossed with warm pasta, but should you be avoiding wheat or carbs in your diet, it is equally as refreshing tossed with scallops, shrimp, shredded chicken, or any protein of your choice. I've also taken to just tossing the mix with freshly-picked arugula and a squeeze of lemon to make a substantial entree salad as well.
Break out your best knife, to make preparation a breeze, and head to your local market for the best the seasons offer. You'll have meals from the bounty of the coming summer wrapped up with nary a bead of perspiration for the hot days ahead.
No-cook Summer Sauce with Tomato & Mozzarella
2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 small sweet bell pepper (we used a medley of banana and purple bell peppers, but any sweet pepper(s) of your choice will suffice)
1/2 small red onion, cubed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove elephant garlic, minced
Kosher salt, cracked red pepper, to taste
1T apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Serve tossed with 1 pound prepared pasta, or over protein of your choice
Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, peppers, basil, parsley and garlic. Season with salt and cracked red pepper to taste. Set aside to let tomatoes release their juices and flavors to meld for about 15-30 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Mix well. Correct seasonings.
Prepare pasta (or protein of your choice). While still warm, toss with summer sauce, and serve.
NOTE: Sauce can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before tossing with hot pasta or cooked protein of your choice.
Texas Farmers' Market vendors Johnson's Backyard Garden and Gray Gardens provided vegetables for promotion free of charge for this demo, and new cheese vendor, Full Quiver Farms, their own fresh mozzarella. If you're in the Austin area, stop by and pick up the best local farm and artisan food in Central Texas. If you're outside of the area, I'd love to hear about the sources you find in your region for fresh wholesome food, too. Drop me a line or comment below, and you may just find your name, your blog (if you have one) and favorite market mentioned in an upcoming post.
If you find yourself in the Austin/Cedar Park area in the month of June, please stop by the market on June 10 and/or 11 to discover The Season's Best, and learn tips for maximizing your wholesome market basket haul. I'd love to visit with you!