Sunday, September 4, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Peaches and Mozzarella: Simple pleasures

The mason jar of half-blended pistachio nut butter and I were engaged in a fierce staring contest.

It had been idling in the back of my refrigerator since January when my immersion blender had sputtered to an untimely death halfway through the blending process. I'd disgustedly deposited the pistachio crumble into the aforementioned jar and chucked it into the corner of my fridge, telling myself I'd finish pureeing it later.

I, of course, never did.

So it sat, untouched, next to the two bottles of beer my dad had brought over to my apartment when I moved in over a year and a half ago. They taunted me from behind the carton of milk and Greek yogurt containers I'd placed in a fortress-like construction in front of them. But even when I couldn't see them, when I'd close my eyes and blindly reach into my fridge for the parmesan cheese, I knew they were there. Just like I knew the tupperware I'd shoved into the back of the highest cabinet in my kitchen after discovering a small dead cockroach inside was still there too -- the vestigial limb of the former roommates I'd evicted with 17 roach motels last summer.

It was unbearable. All of it. The bag of items I'd taken home with me on my last day of my former job nearly four months ago. The stack of unsorted junk mail sitting on a stack of health and fashion magazines on the chair by the door. The row of dresses in my walk-in closet that were no longer neatly arranged by color.

My brain would seize up every time I walked into my apartment, unnerved by the chaos and clutter that would attack it from every corner of the space. I couldn't focus on anything -- not even my new trashy television obsession, "Meet the Kardashians," or the mind-numbing text message conversation with my friend Ashley about whether we prefer Khloe or Kourtney. I felt dirty. Unhinged. Embarrassed by the physical representations of my disorganization.

Yesterday, I'd finally had enough. Enlivened by the caloric indulgence of a dim sum brunch with friends, I started cleaning at 12:42 p.m. and spent the next four hours excising all the clutter from my apartment. I opened the beers and drained the contents down the sink. I spooned the pistachio crumble into the trash. I outfitted my hands with extra thick gloves and removed the offending roach from the tupperware -- and then blasted the interior with a hot stream of antibacterial-laced soapy water. I shredded old papers until my shredder overheated. I reorganized my dresses by color.

And when all was said and scoured and banished, I stood euphorically in the doorway, observing all the clean surfaces.

Peace and simplicity at last.

There is nothing more satisfying than a clean, uncluttered apartment.

Except maybe a clean, uncluttered heirloom tomato salad with peaches and mozzarella -- the last vestigial limb of summer.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Peaches and Mozzarella
Serves 4

2 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced with a serrated knife
1 large yellow peach, sliced
6-8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (I used Galbani)
Handful of fresh basil, torn
Handful of fresh mint leaves, torn
Balsamic vinegar
Good quality olive oil
Flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
Freshly ground pepper

Layer slices of tomatoes, peaches and mozzarella across a plate. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to taste. Finish with fresh basil and mint.


Robin said...

Dear "Not my Cousin",

Umm you may have wanted to save those bottles of beer in case a gentleman arrived early for a dinner date and you weren't quite ready. You could offer him one.

Beside's, throwing away beer is alchohol abuse. :-)

Take care, Robin

Gastronomer said...

I agree with Cousin Robin, alcohol down the sink is just plain wrong.

Still, I am very happy to hear that your apartment is in perfect order. I hope mine will be as well before the weekend is over.

Esi said...

Love everything about the salad. Do not love throwing beer away. For shame!

Anna A. said...

Nums! never tried a peachy capresy but now I am compelled. Glad you got all clean and tidy although I cringed when you tossed out that good beer and 'tasche butter.

Don't you hate it when... said...

Looks deliscious. I know the feeling about removing clutter. I plan to do the same very soon. Was just talking to friends at work about my junky house. Time is definately a factor. That really looks deliscious.

H. C. said...

a tomato-peach-mozzarella salad is HARDLY vestigial!

Also love your decree of 'good quality olive oil' -- how Ina Garten of you ;)

H. C. said...

and I've done a variation this with burrata & nectarines (only 'cause I can't STAND peach fuzz)... so good!

Ashley said...

I think you mean exhilarating conversation, not mind-numbing.

Monet said...

I love the feeling of a clean apartment and a freshly prepared meal. This looks lovely. Thanks for sharing with me. My breakfast tastes a bit better as I imagine how tasty this salad must be! I hope you are having a beautiful day.

Diana said...

Robin - Doesn't beer go bad after like 6 months though? Wouldn't want to serve any gentleman callers funky tasting beer! What would that say about me? That I'm funky. Which I am, I guess. ;)

Cathy - I hope your apartment got a good scrubbin' before you left for Vietnam! Can't wait to hear all about your trip when you are back!

Esi - It had gone bad!!! I think.

Anna - Don't worry, I gave them a little funeral as I was dumping them in the trash.

Don't you hate it when - Yes, it feels so liberating! And the best part? It's easier to keep clean after the fact.

HC - Did you just liken me to Ina? Be still my beating heart! ;)

Ashley - Shhh... don't let the others know. ;)

Monet - I hope you enjoyed your breakfast! Sending good thoughts out to Austin!