With it being Easter weekend I decided not to do much around the homestead. Besides spring cleaning around the barn and burning old, rotted pallets and brush, I was otherwise and enjoyed the beauty of the sunshine and quietness. On Sunday we all gathered at my sister’s house for a quiet Easter dinner of ham and everything that Southerners eat with that. I would go into detail but if you are from the South you pretty much have an idea of what was on the table.
This had me thinking about how much, as Southerners, food plays an important role in our lives. I don’t want anyone to think that I believe it doesn’t play a role in the lives of everyone but Southern tables are the only thing I can speak about that I have experience with. So yesterday, when I was looking at the spread, I was thinking about summer time being right around the corner. I was thinking about the smell of fresh cut grass and the heat that beats down on my skin when I’m working in the garden and how good that sun feels on my face when I close my eyes and turn my head upward toward it. I also thought about what kind of traditions we have in the summer as a family at Folly Mountain Farm. One of them is setting the picnic table with a white cotton tablecloth and real dishes and silverware.
For some reason having a picnic with real dishes and silverware seems old fashioned to me and special. Plastic tableware seems too fleeting, as if we are on a road trip and need to hurry and eat because we have to make a certain point before the sun sets. There is something more pleasant and indelible about having to clear the table and take the dishes in to wash while sharing stories with each other and catching up on the gossip about other members of the family. (Come on, don’t act like you guys don’t do it too.)
While cleaning up the dishes this Easter dinner, our conversation turned to that favorite dish we like to cook every summer, bruschetta with fresh tomato and basil. We usually reserve this dish for summer time because the best bruschetta is topped with the freshest ingredients. I almost hate to admit it but it is because of this dish that I grow fresh basil. I have probably mentioned this before but it deserves repeating, there is no store bought tomato that equals fresh tomatoes from the garden, still hot from the sun.
Bruschetta | courtesy A Southern Girl in Connecticut
It will not be long now that the weather will turn warmer and we will be out on the lawn talking, laughing and eating bruschetta. This, along with other meals that I enjoy with fresh vegetables, is what inspires me to go out and cultivate my basil and baby my tomatoes. I grow everything organically so a lot of my time is spent ridding my plants of pests, but thinking of the days at the picnic table keeps me driven. Since I will not be seeing all of you reading this at that table, because, well honestly, we don’t know each other, I would love to share our family recipe with you so that maybe you, too, can come together as family around the fresh summer taste of bruschetta with tomato and basil topping.
1 loaf Italian or French bread
2 cloves garlic cut in half
Olive oil (better keep the whole bottle there, you’ll need it)
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 large fresh tomatoes
1/2 purple onion, finely chopped (or onion of your choice. I like the sweet, mild taste of the purple onion)
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon salt
Tomato and basil topping (Makes about 3 cups):
Finely dice up the tomatoes and put into a medium sized bowl. Dice the onion half and add to the tomatoes (I like my tomatoes and onions diced very small because they stay on the bread better). On a cutting board chop the basil and add to the mixture; then add the lime juice and salt. Stir this together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cut the loaf of bread on the diagonal and with a BBQ brush; coat both sides of bread with olive oil. Put into a hot frying pan (I use a cast iron skillet because I think it brings out the taste better but you can also grill your bread) until both sides are a toasted light brown. Take a slice of the fresh garlic halves and rub onto the bread. (Hint: You can use one slice for 3-4 slices of bread) When they have all been coated with the garlic top them with the fresh tomato and basil mixture and enjoy.