Tis Tomato Time. What is the first thing you think of? Yep, Caprese Salad. But just simple Caprese Salad. No balsamic, no onions, no capers, no bread on the plate. Great in season tomatoes, Heirlooms, different colors and shapes. Best mozzarella. Torn basil. Olive oil. Flaky sea salt (Maldon if you can find it) and pepper to taste. Period. Cut tomatoes into rounds, quarters, slices–vary the shape, they look beautiful on the plate. Then take the mozzarella and tear it into pieces, don’t cut it. Next, olive oil to taste. Scatter torn basil pieces over top. Finally, add the sea salt and pepper to taste. Too hot to cook? Make the salad bigger and serve for dinner, maybe with some fresh bread on the side and a plate of prosciutto and cheese. In any case, don’t forget the wine.


Multipurpose Marinated Mushrooms. These are more than a nibble or a bit. They can actually can be used as is, as a sauce, a spread, or eaten with a spoon out of the jar. This recipe requires an overnight rest before eating, but the result is worth the wait. You will need a box of white mushrooms, generally speaking they are about 10 ounces (you can get fancy if you want, I am just giving you the basics), 1/3 cup best olive oil you have, 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, a clove of garlic minced or shaved over a microplane if you prefer, a pinch of red pepper flakes or more for a bit of heat, 1 Teaspoon of fresh thyme, salt, and parsley for finishing. First off, if your mushrooms are large as those shown in the photograph are, halve or quarter them, if not, leave them whole. Bring a pot of water to boil and add about 2 Teaspoons of salt. Drop mushrooms into the water and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and set aside to drain and cool. Meanwhile, make the marinade. In a measuring cup, combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, and salt. Taste and add more of what you feel it needs to suit your taste. When mushrooms are cooled, press the excess moisture out using a paper towel. Don’t mush them, you want them to retain their shape as much as possible. Add them to a bowl along with the marinade and combine all. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature for serving and top with parsley to finish. They can be served skewered with a toothpick, chopped to be used as crostini, tossed with cooked pasta and a bit of the pasta water and maybe the yolk of an egg if you are adventuresome, they can be pulsed and made into a spread for crackers, they can be used as a topping for pizza Bianca with maybe a bit of sausage crumbles and some caramelized onions, or used just as part of an antipasto plate. A glass of Beaujolais? Yes please!

Roasted peppers have found their way into my fridge since the days of my very first apartment. My grandmother taught me how to cook them and as a fledgling foodie, it was an easy recipe to follow. Roast on high heat, put in paper bag, peel skin, seed, add chopped garlic, olive oil, and eat with really good bread. But, a few days ago, my dear friend Chris Hanc found some of those baby sweet peppers which had been lying around and came up with this idea. Kudos to him because it was a great bite! A riff on your standard roast peppers without all that peeling and seeding. Here is what you need. Peppers, of course, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C)–(yes, you can use a toaster oven). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (easy cleanup). While oven is heating, toss the peppers in a bowl with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Place on the prepared pan and roast until the peppers are softened to your liking turning occasionally to caramelize. Total cooking time, about 20 minutes. Serve. We drank Rose’. Lambrusco would be nice. Leftovers? Store in a jar and use on sandwiches with mozzarella and basil or as a side dish with some shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano, basil and capers. You can still drink Rose’ or Lambrusco.