Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

Summer Tomato, Sweet Onion & Blackberry Salad with Basil Mint Crema

This salad is the happy result of a recent early morning meander through the Portland Farmers Market. In mid-August, the market is full to bursting and the choices are almost overwhelming.

A huge variety of sweet and chile peppers overflow baskets onto large bunches of just picked basil and mint. Plump sweet onions nestle next to mountains of green and purple beans. Tomatoes are either as small as a marble or as large as your fist and range in color from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. Blackberries, yellow raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all vie for attention.

Kicky Tomato Strawberry Gazpacho

Kicky Tomato Strawberry Gazpacho

If you’ve been following along with me this summer, you know I am enthralled with the tomato and strawberry flavor pairing. Earlier, I created Fresh Strawberry-Tomato Dessert Sauce to accompany Heavenly Parmesan Sour Cream Pound Cake. It was a surprise hit. I have to explore at least a couple more strawberry-tomato dishes before the summer season is over.

While pondering what to cook next and flagging from the 90+ degree heat wave that hit Seattle this week, the inevitable happened. I opened the oh-so-wonderfully-cold frig and saw, at eye level, a large bowl of strawberries alongside a large bowl of grape tomatoes, both of which were intended for salad.

Fresh Strawberry-Tomato Dessert Sauce

Bowl of Fresh Strawberries and Tomatoes with Lime

The idea of pairing strawberries with tomatoes originally came to me while perusing one of my favorite culinary sites, FoodPairing, which features dozens of potentially harmonious and sometimes very odd sounding ingredient pairings. (Another great site for this type of exploration is Khymos. Or check out the most comprehensive book ever written on the topic: The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It lists thousands of ingredient pairings favored by some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs.)

Spicy Eggplant Tomato Sauce

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This hearty, almost meaty, sauce is one of the first dishes I make each fall in the Northwest. In September, farmers markets are overflowing with eggplant, bell peppers, and ripe heirloom tomatoes. The colors and flavors are amazing together.

Curried Tomato & Red Lentil Soup

Curried Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils are wonderful legumes. They look as good as they taste—something of a feat for a member of the legume family. This soup is a casual meal in a bowl, with layers of flavor, heat, and spice—plus a nice balance between the sweetness of the vegetables and the acidity of the lemon juice and sour cream. It tastes best if made a day or two ahead, but we can never wait.