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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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ATigerInTheKitchen - I LOVE your pictures, as usual. This made me so wish I were eating tomatoes and burrata (it’s been too long since I had some!) out on the grass instead of sitting in my Brooklyn home, feeling hungry. Thanks for sharing…

Megan Gordon - Well shoot, looks like this picnic turned out great. Love that picture of the tomato! I think you’ve also inspired me to take my lunch right on out to the lawn today. xo

Asha@FSK - Love the pic of the slippers :)) So warm and fun!

Radhika - Beautiful pics. I am sad that summer has almost ended in this part of the world.

Christie @ Fresh Local and Best - Oh this looks heavenly! To be able to picnic under the last weeks of summer’s sun. I adore well-aged cured meats with soft and creamy rich burrata. I’ll be in the bay area for the next week, so we should try to get together if you are available.

cathy/ShowFoodChef - Danielle, this is gorgeous! I so agree, nothing better than a home grown tomato. Mine didn’t fair so well this year, and yours look amazing! Your post is a fun and relaxing read all in one.

Dana - What gorgeous tomatoes!

LimeCake - what a lovely picnic! savouring the last bits of summer with simple, delicious food is unbeatable.

Steff - 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.

Rémy Thurston - Picnics are the most cultural phenomenon of the western world.

Blog Stew #1 « Beats and Carrots - [...] forget to have a picnic before the weather starts getting too cold! “Bon Vivant” describes what picnics are in their essence and makes you feel dumb for sitting inside at your [...]

El - It sounds like a wonderful day. I hope you guys had fun!

virgoblue - That sounds fantastic! What inspiration for me to do the same. And I agree, whoever concocted Burrata WAS a genius!

Big Sur Bakery « Bon Vivant - [...] a great job of reminding us how lucky we are to be alive, right here, right now. You know those. Playing Cleopatra on a grassy lawn. Gardening. A good laugh or cry with a [...]

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