As the weeks pass and my garden vegetables ripen, they prompt daydreams of what I’ll make when they reach their full, saturated glory. There is nothing better than cutting peak-ripe produce from their stems and making a dish with the fresh harvest. Appropriate to the season, there is nearly no cooking in this tomato and cucumber salad: After just a few minutes in a hot skillet with a slick of olive oil, briny capers puff into a crunchy, sublime topping. Herbs in abundance are always a yes. Use what you have available: Instead of dill, feel free to substitute any soft herb, such as parsley, basil, cilantro, or mint—or play around with a mixture. Likewise, if you don’t have umeboshi or sherry vinegar around, swap in the vinegar you have and love. —Melina Hammer
extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
brined capers, drained and patted dry
medium to large heirloom tomatoes (such as Cherokee purple, yellow Brandywine, Zapotec ribbed red), cut into hearty wedges
English cucumber or 4 Persian cucumbers, sliced into ½-inch-thick half-moons
stems fresh dill, fronds plucked from stems
umeboshi or sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
In This Recipe
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the capers and reduce the heat to medium. After 30 seconds, shake the pan to coat the capers in the oil. Keep cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the capers are crispy, browned, and puffed. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the capers to a small dish.
Divide the tomato wedges and cucumbers between two shallow bowls. Scatter with the dill fronds, then drizzle with the vinegar and some olive oil. Sprinkle the crispy capers on top, plus flaky salt and black pepper. Eat right away.
Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.