Let’s Lunch: Tomato & Cheese

Picnics. Bare feet on a carpet both soft and crisp. Face to the sun, under an expansive blue sky, with the occasional, breezy caress. For the moment, life is infinite, outside the concrete walls of existence. It’s a precious moment, to sit outside, on the ground, and just be.

For lunch this month, my Twitter buddies and I decided to head out for a picnic, and I couldn’t be happier. Those six letters spell spontaneity, freedom, a license to throw any semblance of planning out the window and just go with the flow. We’re fortunate that we’re right across the street from a lovely park and we’ve been relishing the expanse of land with a couple of impromptu picnics. Cold cuts, some fresh fruits, bread, a good book, and a pair of shades – all you need for a perfectly relaxing afternoon to ponder some of life’s most pressing questions.

Should I have another fig with that slice of prosciutto?

Can tomatoes get any sweeter than this?

Forget Einstein. Whoever concocted Burrata was a genius.

To read or to have another glass of wine…decisions, decisions, decisions.

Why don’t we do this more often?

Ah. The productive ramblings of an idle mind. The antithesis of economic recovery, the champion of all things temporal and sensual.

Picnics are when I channel all my energies into the important pose of reclining comfortably on the ground, Cleopatra-like, popping one grape/blueberry/raspberry after the other, with no care for constructive conversation. That stuff is for sit-down dinners – all that menu-planning, swotting over the stove, wine pairing stuff – it has no place on the small square of grass we’ve colonized for a couple of hours on a late summer afternoon. Food needs to be portable, easy to eat and clean up while, of course, staying delicious.

Which is why this post is all about a recipe for a non-recipe.

The basic principle at work is to get your hands on the freshest, best-quality produce you can find and lay them out, tapas-style, for a long, leisurely lunch. Our tomatoes, finally coming through in the past couple of weeks, were ideal picnic fare when sliced, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and eaten with sloppy scoops of soft burrata.

Simple, easy, divine.

You could, if you wish, gild the lily and add a slice of the most tender cuts of prosciutto. But that would be pushing the boundaries of simplicity just a tad. You could, also, for a zing to the palate, pop an olive in between servings of this crazily sensual tomato-and-cheese open-faced sandwich, to clear the palate and re-energize you for more.

Either way, the picnic is yours to create – it’s about bringing together the simplest, freshest ingredients, with minimal fuss and maximum flavor – so that your energies are saved for the most important task while picnicking: Relaxing.

Picnic for two

One freshly-baked baguette, a couple of hours old, sliced or left whole and torn into bite-sized pieces
6 of the freshest, plumpest tomatoes you can find, halved and sliced
8 ounces of burrata, mozzarella or any soft, creamy cheese
3 ounces prosciutto
Good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper

Lay all the ingredients out on a platter. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and burrata, then add some salt and pepper. Eat, relax, enjoy.

Before you leave, check out what my fellow lunchers are having today:

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14 Comments

  1. I miss living near a park… Wait. Strike that. I’ve never lived near a park. But if I did, I’d so take your approach to picnicking. However, maybe I’ll skip the game today, grab a sandwich and some grapes, and sit outside reading (read: lazing) the afternoon away.

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