Crisp white wine, sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes of different shapes, sizes, and vibrant hues, savory and salty baked clams– the flavors of summer in themselves are an escape from the city during these especially hot days and nights. Sunday dinner after a beautiful weekend in the Hamptons is always a bittersweet event. Fresh ingredients from the farmer’s market, friends, and family, always make for an amazing meal, but supper is always the last thing I can fit in before boarding the bus headed back to Manhattan.
Tonight I was a guest at my friend Stephen’s house in Sag Harbor for dinner. After a completely kitchen-free weekend, I was happy to throw together a few no-fuss sides to add to an already impressive spread. I had been talking so much about my watermelon and arugula salad the day before at the beach, I decided to make it again this evening with some ingredients from the Amagansett Farmer’s Market, along with some quick pickled red onions and cherry tomatoes.
The produce at the Amagansett Farmer’s Market is amazing, and my friends, despite being foodies, still could not quite understand my excitement over my salad supplies. The baby arugula was the most tender, peppery, absolutely perfect green I have ever tasted, I have to say, it was probably worth it’s $6.99 per 1/4 of a pound price I failed to notice.
For my watermelon salad I mixed the arugula with some frisee to bulk it up enough to serve the group of 10. I cubed half of a sweet seedless watermelon, and about 6 ounces of salty ricotta salata cheese. I tossed in a bunch of salted pepitas (sunflower seeds are delicious too) for a little crunch, and I usually dress it with a simple lemony champagne vinaigrette (1 shallot, minced, juice of 1 lemon, 2 T champagne vinegar, 1 T dijon mustard, 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper). This salad is incredibly light and refreshing, easy, and goes well with almost any summer meal.
Stephen’s dad grilled a steak and burgers, and whipped up a batch of baked clams in the backyard (which deserve much more attention than my vegetable side-dishes) while we enjoyed the pool, some Southampton Double White Ales, and the company of three very funny little dogs. We ate under the vine-covered pergola, and Stephen’s mom set the table with blue checkered cloth and wildflower bouquets, my favorite combination for any summertime spread.
Before we could see sun setting, or the paper lanterns illuminated in the trees of the yard, we were having our last laughs, sips, and bites and running out to the car. Now, typing this and only seeing the red glow of brake lights out the window of the bus, it seems much more than 100 miles away from that special tranquility, comfort, and certain contentedness that can be found in the summer at home.