Did you notice that most everyone had a smile on their face this Monday? That’s because most of us spent the weekend building raised beds, adding compost to the soil and planning - or planting - our vegetable beds. I went to a plant sale in my neighborhood and it was so popular, I had to park about a block away for the first time ever.
I checked in with farmer /chef Jeff Mall of Zin Restaurant last week to see when he was going to put his tomatoes in the ground. Having suffered a late frost in the past, Mall said he always waits until after May 1, just to be on the safe side.
If you’re looking for some tomato starts, swing by the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center’s annual Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale on Saturday, where you can pick up more than 125 varieties of tomato seedlings grown from the winery’s own seeds. You can also stock up on fresh produce, bread and sweet treats at the seasonal kick-off of the Kendall-Jackson Farmstand. The sale goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Here’s a recipe for Kendall-Jackson Chef Justin Wangler for a Greek Bread Salad, to get you in the mood for the salad days of summer. You can still find decent cherry tomatoes and Romas this time of year, but you’ll have to wait a bit for for those big, juicy Brandywines.
Greek Bread Salad
5 cups cubed, stale country bread such as levain
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
12 ounces colorful heirloom, cherry of Roma tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch dice
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup pitted green olives, chopped
1/3 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemon or regular thyme
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put bread in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together. Pour over the bread and toss to coat well. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving a small portion of the feta and herbs to use as garnish. Let stand for 30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Divide among 6 small bowls and garnish with the reserved feta and herbs.