I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it turns out I have quite the green thumb—a revelation so unexpected that it's left me with a near-obscene overabundance of fresh herbs all summer long. What began as a half-hearted experiment in my new backyard turned into lush, seemingly indestructible bushes of sweet Italian and Thai basil; dense thickets of parsley and cilantro; the vine-like crawl of lemon thyme and mint. I literally can't use this stuff up fast enough.
But I've gotten pretty good at trying.
My favorite use for my herbs isn't pesto (admittedly a close second). It isn't garnishing cocktails or making simple syrups, stuffing birds or seasoning my meat 'n' 'taters. It's eating them raw and virtually unadulterated, preferably in the same form of chaotic excess that they take in my garden.
Here, I combine that full array—basil, lemon thyme, mint, parsley, and cilantro—and amplify the herbal intensity with a generous handful of peppery baby arugula. Tomatoes, sliced and salted, add a tart-sweet, juicy counterpoint that heightens the salad's summery feel. It's pumped up with a briny mix of chopped kalamata and oil-cured olives—strong flavors that are balanced by shredded mozzarella and a lemony balsamic vinaigrette.
Do you need two types of olives, or lemon thyme? No. The point here is magnitude, potency. It's summer's flavors, all jumbled up and teetering at the precipice of a little too much. Which, in my opinion, is exactly how it should be.
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