As do most of you, I have a handful of go-to recipes that I can almost make without looking. They are the things I turn to over and over again, as they are just so darn good.
Here is a potato side dish I make all summer long, while the fresh herbs are growing outside my kitchen door. Don't be fooled by the words Potato Salad, this resembles nothing of the egg and mayo version you may be accustomed to:
TUSCAN POTATO SALAD
6 med. red potatoes, cooked and cut into fourths (I prefer skin on)
2 Tbsp good olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 lg or 2 sm cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes. Combine all of the other ingredients and toss with the warm potatoes. Let it sit on the counter for 30 min or so to blend the flavors. Devour the whole bowl. (I dare you not to!)
Another tried and true summer go-to, with endless variations:
TOMATOES & CHEESE PASTA (serve hot, or cold the next day as a salad)
Dice up some fresh tomatoes (3 or 4), and squeeze 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. Combine them in a bowl and lavish them with olive oil (just eyeball it, they don't need to be drenched, but pretty moist). Sliver up some fresh basil, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, and toss it all together. Cover it and let it sit on your counter for 2-3 hours, or all afternoon if you are going to the pool!
Now, the fun part. What would you like with your tomatoes? You can cook up some Italian Sausage (either ground, or cook links and slice them), steam some shrimp, dice up some salami or pepperoni, or cook up some prosciutto. Or grill some chicken breasts and dice them up. Maybe saute some baby portobello mushrooms in a little garlic and butter. You pick!
Cook up a pound of pasta, again, your choice.
Choose your cheese. I like to use fresh mozzeralla, all diced up. If you want to be decadent, dice up some Brie. It also works with monterey jack, or maybe manchego or asiago to change up the flavors.
Now, toss your tomato mixture (when you take that plastic wrap off, the wonderful smell will nearly knock you over) with whatever protein you have chosen, along with the cheese and the pasta. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, add a little more olive oil if it seems dry. Garnish it with some more fresh basil and a smattering of freshly grated parmesan.
Oh my goodness. And if you want to be vegetarian, skip the meat. Or skip the meat and serve this as a side dish to a nice piece of fish, or chicken, or some Italian sausages that you have boiled in red wine and finished on the grill.