The end of summer is such a bittersweet time for me. I love the relaxed mindset of largely unscheduled days, but I also love the excitement and feeling of promise and new beginnings that come every September. I love the heat and sunshine of summer, but I also like thick sweaters and tall boots. The leaves are starting to change on the trees in my front yard; the air is crisp and cool in the mornings and evenings. Fall is right around the corner and so I am desperately hanging on to the last vestiges of summer. I do love soups and roasted squash and root vegetables that go hand in hand with autumn, but I'm not ready to let go of the tastes of summer.
Along with fifteen pounds of tomatoes, my mother-in-law also gave me several lovely zucchinis from her garden. Zucchinis and tomatoes make the perfect late-summer combination, I think. I created this salad to take advantage of those flavours, which go nicely with a simple balsamic reduction. It's a celebration of summer, on a plate.
In a small saucepan, bring vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half, approximately ten minutes. Vinegar should be thickened and syrupy in appearance. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Slice tomatoes into 1/2 inch thick slices, arrange on a plate.
Using a vegetable peeler, cut zucchini into ribbons, turning zucchini as you cut, discarding the seedy centre. Arrange over top tomatoes.
Dice avocado, add to salad. Crumble goat cheese or cashew cheese over top, and garnish with basil leaves.
Drizzle olive oil and balsamic reduction over salad; enjoy the flavours of summer.
Yield: Makes 2 large or 4 side salads
Nutritional Information, based on 1 of 4 side salads, made with goat cheese (approximate): Calories: 155, Carbohydrates: 13 grams, Fibre: 4 grams, Sugar: 8 grams, Protein: 4 grams, Fat: 10 grams