Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scamp Food: Tomato-Onion Salad

“All Summer Long” is playing on my iTunes and since I spent some memorable days in northern Michigan last year, I’m on a memory trip that’s tripping my taste buds. I’ve bought a pint of grape tomatoes and a medium-sized red onion, both of which are ready to get intimate with my knives. My olive oil and red wine vinegar are ready to be whisked into submission and I’ve got two bottles—one of freeze-dried garlic and one of freeze-dried salad herbs (onion, dill, etc)—ready, should I want to add them.

AMR gave me the recipe for this tomato-onion salad, which is nothing more than tomatoes, diced red onion, red wine vinegar and olive oil, and seasoned with coarse salt. The first time I made it, it was on a picnic table in Mackinac, Michigan, with a great view of the bridge, being stalked by three very brave seagulls, on a Scamp-sized cutting board and a Scamp-sized colander, whisked with a Scamp-sized whisk. I hadn’t gotten to the main portion of my meal yet, as it was still cooking on the fire, and while I waited, I kept picking at the salad. It was like vegetable candy, I decided. When my dinner came off the fire, I was too full to eat it. I’ve made this salad nearly every time I go camping and I never get sick of it. Sometimes I’ll add the garlic to it, sometimes I’ll sprinkle it with those salad herbs, sometimes I’ll use some lemon juice. This may be camping, but there are some things I refuse to leave at home. Good olive oil, good vinegars, and herbs and spices are some of them.

Of course, part of the fun of this recipe is all the Scamp-sized utensils I get to use.

I like to cook, so the preparation of food is part of the fun. In the Scamp, of course, it takes on a completely different dimension, especially as far as space is concerned. What I like most about this recipe is that it makes me think very hard about what I consider essential. My parents wouldn’t think of taking olive oil and red wine vinegar camping. I wouldn’t leave without it. Freeze-dried spices? Essential. (And they won’t spoil…) I prefer coarse salt to the finer salt. This year, as I’m contemplating revisions to my pantry, I’m thinking of taking some sesame chili oil and ground ginger to turn plain vegetable hoboes into something better. Although, really, I have yet to get sick of any of my staples. I could live on potatoes and onions. I could live on this tomato salad. So far, as long as it’s working, why mess up a good thing?

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