Up until about a year ago, I'd lived my entire life between New York City and Boston. I never dreamed I'd become a West Coaster, much less a suburbanite, much less someone who actually enjoys living in the 'burbs. But I have, and I am. And frankly, I don't know what took me so long. I like having neighbors next door and across the street whom I can give extra fried chicken and pizzas on a daily basis. I like that when I wake up in the morning, taking the dogs out is as simple as opening the door. Most of all, I like that I now actually have a bit of room for growing a garden, rather than relying on the tiny, windy balcony in my old New York apartment.
Growing food for yourself is swell and all, but the real benefits of a garden come with bartering. When my plum tree was in hyperactive overproduction mode, dropping eight pounds of fruit per day into my kitchen-cum-jamming-factory, my neighbors helped me out by taking bags of plums off my hands and returning them transformed into plum pies or plum sorbet.
Now the tables have turned, and I'm the one who's been reaping the rewards of my neighbors' tomato vines. I've been eating tomatoes on an English muffin every day for breakfast. I've been making gazpacho for lunch and salsa for my afternoon snack. Even my dogs get little tomato scraps as a treat.
There aren't many things more worthy of eating in this world than ripe summer tomatoes, and thankfully, taking them from vine to mouth doesn't require much work, making them perfect for our Easiest Summer Ever collection of four-ingredient recipes.
It's tough to improve on a classic Caprese salad of ripe summer tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil, but it's pretty darn easy to make a nice lateral transition to something that's not quite as classic yet equally tasty. Here, I've combined those same tomatoes with sweet apricots (another of summer's treats), briny feta cheese, and mint for a take that's just as refreshing, but with a completely different personality.
Come to think of it, it's also got a lot in common with the other modern classic summer salad: watermelon, feta, and mint. When something's great, it's worth imitating, I suppose.