Saturday, June 7, 2008

Summer Eating

As it gets warmer, I begin to crave certain foods more and more. There's a smell in the air that is unique to the warm Chicago summer winds. My tomatoes in the garden wont ripen until well after July. I love tomatoes. In the mean time store bought ones will do. Everyone has a special food, a certain flavor, scent that brings you back to a special place. Tomatoes are just that. My mother, a proficient Gardner, always grew her own heirloom tomatoes. She does to this very day in her small garden. Fed, watered and loved the tomato veins took off every summer. We always had tons of juicy sweet summer kissed tomatoes. She would toss them into salads, roast them, and always serve a fresh pico de gallo loaded with perfectly diced tomatoes at every meal. Once they ran out, you knew summer was over. Tomatoes are specially dear to Catalans. If you ask anyone who grew up in Catalonia what comes to mind when they smell a ripe tomato, they will all answer pan con tomate. Some have dared to call it Catalonia's most exquisite delicacy. I agree.

Pan con tomate is a very simple snack that has been enjoyed by generations of Catalans. It is simply perfect. All you need is good day old bread, fresh juicy tomatoes, garlic and good extra virgin olive oil. I use the same ingredients to spruce up my summer salads. I turned the beloved Catalan tomato bread into rustic crutons.

I cubed store bought roasted garlic ciabatta and tossed in lots of olive oil, good, olive oil and a tomato puree that i made. Sprinkle with salt and toast under broiler until golden.