We first built these as a salad course for a terrace grill. We served them on a large ceramic platter and noticed that folks were dipping into the ingredients to build seconds. The amblers were artful at handling a drink and a toasty handful while chatting. Upon leaving, several friends wanted to know what all went into the “walkabouts,” so that’s what we call them now.

Summer Salad Tiny-Home Walkabouts
The following ingredients and prep will result in four walkabouts. Multiply these at will for your group. And by all means, substitute like mad, keeping aspects of the sweet and sour, smooth and crunchy, and moist and dry in mind.

For the Foundation
4 large, thick slices dense multigrain bread
1 plump clove garlic, peeled and split in half
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the Build-up
½ onion (any color), peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup interesting vinegar (such as tarragon, lemon, peach, wine, or cider)
1½ cups creamy cheese (such as ricotta, queso blanco, or cream cheese)
2 scallions (white and green parts), trimmed and chopped
½ cup toasted chopped tree nuts (such as pecans, walnuts, almonds, or pine nuts)
A generous fistful of mixed herb leaves (such as basil, lemon thyme, parsley, chives, or cilantro), finely minced with some reserved for garnish

For the Roof
1 cup chopped tender greens (such as arugula, spinach, or leafy lettuce)
2 huge wonderfully firm and deliciously ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced thin-thin
1/3 cup shredded Asiago or other young sheep’s-milk cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  1. Toast the bread on both sides on the grill or with tongs over a gas burner. Smear the slices with the cut garlic, brush with olive oil, and set aside.
  2. Put the sliced onion in a small bowl and cover it with the interesting vinegar. Set it aside to soak while you continue the prep.
  3. In a medium bowl, blend together the creamy cheese, scallions, nuts, and herbs (remembering to set aside some minced herbs for garnish). Add the onion/vinegar mixture and blend again.
  4. Next, build your tiny-home, mashing down a bit as you go. Toast goes on the bottom. Then the cheese mixture on the toast. Greens next. Tomatoes next. Reserved herbs next. Sheep’s-milk cheese next. Then salt and pepper. Finally, finish with a few drops of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Serve on a small plate for milling about.

Cook’s Tips and Tricks: We have seen folks successfully meandering about with a half portion in hand, but it’s no guarantee. If you put the ingredients out as a buffet, arrange them in the order in which they should be built, then stand back and watch. These will be good on the table for about 45 minutes outside, or much longer indoors.

—Picked at the Peak, by Deborah DeBord, Ph.D


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