Seasonal Pantry: Simple, flexible late-summer recipes

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School has started, and the weather is oddly un-summerly.

Summer? Some of us are thinking, “What summer? When? Did I miss it?”

There is a good chance that we’ll have more warm weather, as September and October are often the hottest months of the year in Northern California. And we may or may not have Indian summer, which does not come until after the year’s first frost. With luck, it won’t come any time soon, as I’ve not had my fill of tomatoes and I’m still waiting for the year’s best local melons.

At times like these, sometimes the best thing to do is simply cook and let everything else take care of itself. When you’re preparing two or three meals a day, life’s other aspects fall into place. It sounds suspiciously simple, I admit, but the truth of it is reinforced every time I shift my focus from worry — about money, the news, the weather and assorted other problems, big and small — to what’s on the menu for the next meal.

It is not possible, of course, for everyone to prepare three meals a day, given the distance between home and work for so many of us. But if you never or rarely cook, or if you think of cooking as a tedious chore or as something better left to others, you might be surprised if you give it a try.

Today’s recipes are offered in this spirit. They are simple, seasonal, flexible and require no special skills, just good ingredients that are readily at hand.


This is one of the simplest summer side dishes imaginable and is a perfect way to use garden tomatoes when you have an abundance. Be careful not to overcook the tomatoes or you’ll end up with sauce.

Simple Fried Tomatoes

Serves 4 to 6

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