Monday, September 7, 2009

UnRecipe: Labor-Free Labor Day Dinner

The Labor Day weekend marks off the waning days of summer. It's also the weekend I'll be at Penny Arcade Expo, in support of Brock and his workplace, so taking the "Labor" out of Labor Day, I'm posting something that happened a couple of weeks ago when the weather was nicer than what it is now.

I'm starting to see hints of gold and red appear on trees, the backyard garden is showing off what will be its final blooms, and it's getting to where we'll have to cut down the last of the our basil before the weather gets too cold for its tender leaves. We'll make at least one batch of pesto, but there's something really nice about enjoying fresh-picked herbs in food. Enjoying all that is best about summer, we had a dinner outside with all our favorite things, including Insalata Caprese with an antipasto platter of cheese, meat and our regular meal companion, fig jam!

Summer in the raw with a Caprese salad - Photo by Wasabi Prime

We didn't grow tomatoes this year, so it was a treat to pick up some heirlooms for dinner. I love their lumpy-bumpy, wabi-sabi shape. A lot of the ones being sold now are showing signs of being late in the harvest -- a lot of splitting --but we were fortunate to find two whose surfaces were intact and firm. A handful of freshly cut basil leaves were shredded up and sprinkled between the slices of tomato and mozzarella cheese. Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and the main course was ready to eat.

Bright colors are tasty - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I know I've featured fig jam and cheese quite a bit over summer. It's my new love affair, both at home and in the office. I just can't quit you, Fig Jam. Paired with a couple of different cheeses (spicy jalapeno havarti and a pungent, creamy blue), its deeply-flavored, sticky sweetness made them almost like a dessert that still tasted good with large chunks of fatty dry-aged meat, which is a pretty nice thing. We poured ourselves a glass of wine and threw some wood into our little outdoor fire pit to further set the mood. Sure, we could have gone out to dinner, but sitting in the backyard, enjoying a quiet summer evening felt like a pretty good argument for spending the night at home.

Private dining at Chez Wasabi - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Indulging in what will most likely be the last few weeks of our precious summer, I wanted to linger on this post a little while longer, to share more photos featuring the colors of the season. When the winter chill returns and the yard becomes less hospitable for lazy weekend dinners, these pictures will make me happy, looking forward for sweet harvests and blossoms to come.

Le jardin du Wasabi and meals good to the last bite - Photos by Wasabi Prime

*Post Script - Grazie mille to FoodGawker and Serious Eats' Photograzing for picking the luscious sliced heirloom toh-mah-toh photo from this post.

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  1. What gorgeous pictures! I started chuckling when I saw your post today because my post looks so similar today too. Yay insalata caprese! We must be on the same wavelength. I love fig jam with cheese too, and those are some lovely pictures of cheese! yum.

  2. Hey! You have a wonderful blog and such amazing pics :) Am sure going to be back again.

  3. You know that I couldn't agree more about bright colors! The caprese salad looks fantastic and refreshing and the fig jam looks like the perfect condiment on your cheese and meat plate. I can't wait until the day I have a backyard, just so I can make plates like this and enjoy the outdoors.

  4. Yum! I love Caprese salad. What a perfect way to say goodbye to summer with such a classic meal. And no Labor is even better! I love the simplicity of this meal, too. There is something about food that is naturally beautiful and delicious without any fuss that is elegant and somewhat indulgent. Beautiful post!

  5. Ohh, another fig jam and cheese post! And havarti is probably my favorite cheeeeese. With jalapenos, too? Oh my. And those gorgeous tomatoes and delicious looking chunks of meat. Just... wow. Was I ever really a vegan? It just doesn't seem possible now!

    And while I am admiring your lovely dinner, the boyfriend, Aaron, is totally jealous that you are going to the Penny Arcade Expo. :)


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