By Julia Turshen, Special to The Washington Post
When we sit down to eat this time of year, we should toast farmers rather than cooks. They’ve done the heavy lifting, and their produce, in all its ripe glory, allows us home cooks to do so little and get so much in return. Since I prefer dishes that require minimal effort, summer is my favorite time to be in the kitchen.
Like all things that come and go, summer produce is best celebrated at its peak. Which is right now.
My beloved of-the-moment ingredients, from juicy tomatoes to fistfuls of soft herbs, invite you to go in so many directions. Whether you bake muffins studded with nectarines, or marinate tomatoes with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes (and whether you toss the tomatoes with pasta or use them as a bed for grilled fish), the recipes that follow put the bounty front and center. They also offer variations, so those muffins can be made with cherries and almonds, or even be vegan and gluten-free. For the tomatoes, you can swap garlic for ginger, vinegar for fish sauce and basil for cilantro. The effect is something completely different, while the method is exactly the same (and so easy, to boot). How about that?
A bit more about the Garlicky Marinated Tomatoes. While you never cook the tomatoes, warming the garlic and red pepper flakes in oil makes all the difference. That bit of heat allows the flavors to bloom and take over. The tomatoes then sit in the slightly warm bath until they relax back to room temperature. Combined with the natural juices, plus fresh herbs, the ethereal mixture tastes far more complex than it was to prepare. Then, use the tomatoes on any and every thing. Turn them into a…
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