Best style of summer eating: Head to market, buy a lot of whatever looks incredible (occasionally a dangerous tactic), bike home, teetering dangerously with the weight of new goods, and happily mix everything up with the most minimal of actual cooking or heat.
This tomato water-infused chopped vegetable dish was Patricia Wells-inspired, and would really work with any vegetables at all. Because everything is cooked so briefly, the key is stupendous vegetables that you would be happy to eat raw, and a really fruity, high-quality olive oil. Baby swiss chard, green garlic, carrots, spring onions, tomato, celery leaves, and fresh green chickpeas all made it into the pan, lit by the warm punch of good olive oil. It tasted like pure sunshine.
A final note about the asparagus: I find that fresh spears have a wonderfully pronounced nuttiness from a quick high-heat oven roast, but the more delicate and tender white varieties — like the ones shown above — feel more appropriate in a quick and virginal steam, and finished with a dusting of salt.
And one more thing: I typically like a little something “more” in my meals — maybe a heel of bread, a fried egg, some chopped sardines, or a crumble of bacon — but the vegetables had so much body and life, it didn’t need anything else. If only I ate this healthfully the rest of the year!